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Meet The Species: Blue Tits

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With exotic undertones of black and majestic spangling’s of green and yellow; the blue tit seems out of place in the drab landscapes of northern Europe, perhaps being more typical of the warm climates of the rainforest.

Yet this dainty bird dominates landscapes across Eurasia – from Ireland to Andorra, the estimated 40 million pairs are a common sight to many Europeans.

Described in 1758 by the great naturalist Carl Linnaeus, these agile birds can often be seen dashing across gardens snatching insects. A veracious hunter of small prey, their diet is often heavy in aphids and coccids.

However in recent years, their huge popularity amongst garden lovers which is likely due their beauty, has led to most populations adapting to an easier life of gorging from feeder boxes, saucers and bird tables.

A fact that has led to the British blue tit population evolving the ability to digest milk and cream.

In April they can often be seen hurrying from pillar to post, searching for some small crevice in a tree or small nesting box to mate in. Once found, the lonely hen will toil away for weeks, collecting moss, feather and fine hairs to line the nest; receiving no help from the male as she does. After the arduous process of home building, the male and female will mate and she will lay a large amount of eggs (8-16), delicately caring and incubating them for twelve to fourteen days, alone.

The male bird may return occasionally with food but the responsibility is mostly on her small, dainty shoulders.

After several months of constant feeding, with their ravenous young consuming an average of one-hundred caterpillars a day; the day will finally arrive for them to fledge. The product of a lapsidasicle father and a dedicated mother.

Alexander S. Howson

Alexander S. Howson is a naturalist and nature writer.

Along with a heavy interest in Aquatics, birds and ecology. Alexander now directs a large deal of energy attempting to re-educate the public about aquatics and promoting the conservation of a range of wildlife species.

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