British Bird of the Month: Long Tailed Tit

Member of Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tit) family

Characteristics

The Long-tailed Tit is an attractive, small, fluffy pinkish bird with an extraordinarily long tail (7cm) in relation to its tiny ping-pong ball shaped body. Long-tailed tits are not really members of the Tit family but of the Aegithalidae family. They can be found throughout the UK.

Long-tailed tits have a twittering, trilling song, but it is their high-pitched twittering calls that will usually get them noticed when they chatter to themselves whilst feeding.

What They Eat & What You Can Offer Them

Long-tailed Tits feed mostly on insects, larvae and spiders, but also on berries. In winter they have a strong preference for deciduous woodland particularly Oak, Ash and sometimes Sycamore. Hawthorn and Blackthorn are their favoured shrub species.

Increasingly, Long-tailed Tits are feeding from peanut feeders and suet cake in gardens, so making sure your bird-feeding station is well stocked will help attract them.

 Where They Live & How You Can Help Them

The Long-tailed Tit’s nest is a stunning elastic ball of moss, spiders’ webs, lichen, feathers, and hair that is built by both birds in a bush, hedge or tree. Brambles and gorse being favourite places. The nest may take up to 3 weeks to build and be lined with more than 2000 feathers.

The 7-13 eggs are laid in 1-2 clutches and take about 13 days to incubate. Nests suffer a high rate of predation with only about a 20% success rate. Both adults feed the newly-hatched young, and are often assisted by other birds, especially males, that have failed to breed that season.

In the winter Long-tailed Tits will use nest boxes or roosting pockets to keep warm, so leaving these up in your garden year-round will benefit them.

And Finally……..

Outside the breeding season Long-tailed Tits form compact flocks of 3 to 30 birds, composed of family parties of both parents and offspring from the previous breeding season, together with any extra adults that helped to raise a brood. These flocks will occupy and defend territories against neighbouring flocks. The driving force behind the flocking behaviour is thought to be that of winter roosting as they are susceptible to cold, so huddling increases their survival chances.

 


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