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Thursday, 17 December 2009 00:00

Did you know... Blue Tit

IMG_1322PS Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus) is one of our best known and most common birds. And it is not only because of its abundance and its favour for bird-feeders – it is as well its unusual courage when it comes to the contact with people. I remember one afternoon during last winter when I was sitting in my room and watching birds on the feeder through the open window – one of the Blue Tits was attracted by the cracker I left on the window frame – it came to sit on the frame and then even flew inside the room and spent a little time with me. It sat on the lamp just half a meter from me hiding behind the masked camera lens. The Tit watched me for a while and then left out again – probably found out I would not provide anything better than the seeds outside in the feeder.

Everybody is familiar with Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus), the only Tit with obvious blue colouring in the plumage – it is besides the most usual Great Tit (Parus major) one of the six species of Tits Group present in our country – the others include Marsh Tit (Parus palustris), Willow Tit (Parus montanus), Coal Tit (Parus ater) and Crested Tit (Parus cristatus), the species that are less known to the public bound to a forest habitat. Have you ever seen the Blue Tits pecking the young tree sprouts and leaf buds? It is not that the Tits are eating them, but these are the perfect places where to find worms and insect nymphs that they feed on and this is not the only interesting think you can learn about Blue Tits.


1D3_4584PSSome interesting facts


During nesting the female is mostly the only one sitting on the eggs although the partners sometimes share these duties. If female is the only sitting parent, the male is feeding her during the day and spends the night in some other hollow (nest). If the female leaves the nest under normal conditions (undisturbed), it covered the eggs with the nest material as if we cover ourselves with duvet when we go asleep. Feeding the nestlings is a duty of both parents – they bring the small spiders and insect as often as 400times per day and during one visit one parent always feed only one chick.


The average length of life is 2-3 years for Blue Tits but there are records of birds aged 10 years.


During winter time the Blue Tits wander freely in the landscape in the hunt for a food – they usually do not exceed the distance of 50 km from the nest. They can often be seen following woodpeckers and feeding on their meal`s remnants.


Between the World Wars an interesting food adaptation has been observed in the population of Blue Tits in Great Britain – 1929 was the first year when the locals observed Blue Tits pecking into the aluminium foil-capped milk bottles that were being delivered in front of the houses and enjoying the delicious fat cream on the top. From that time there are known records of Blue Tits flocks chasing from house to house the milk delivery trucks. This ability spread over the whole UK during next 20 years but disappeared with the new milk-bottling system that was not accessible for Blue Tits and also with the arrival of skimmed milk and buying milk in groceries.


The intensity of the blue color on Blue Tits has probably something to do with the partner (male) selection – the healthy bird has usually deeper blue coloured feathers that shine more in UV spectrum –it was experimentally verified that the females prefer males with more intense UV colours.


At some habitats the Blue Tits incorporate aromatic plants and herbs into the nest probably because these help to protect the nest from common mites and ticks and thus contribute to the good shape of the nestlings. There has been found a preference of certain aromatic plants for certain birds – some birds prefer for example a levander while the others prefer mint although the levander can still be more accessible than the mint. It might have something to do with how the birds learn this ability but this has not been yet fully understood.


Blue Tits help in the smoking prevention – one pair of Blue Tits found its nest in the ash bin at the crematorium in West Bromwich in 2007. The crematorium staff put a note above the bin asking the passers-by not to disturb the birds with cigarette butts – I this way these clever birds started to help with the smoke prevention in UK :-)

thumb_1D3_4325PSBasic facts

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Paridae

Genus and Species: Parus caeruleus

Body length: 11 - 13 cm

Wings span: 17 – 20 cm

Weight: 9 - 12 g

Nesting: In natural hollows or in the man-made bird-boxes littered with moss, feathers or animal fur. In nests 1x or 2x a year – usually in April to June the female lays 7 – 16 white eggs with reddish spots; the eggs are brooded for 12 – 14 days; after 17 – 18 days of feeding the nestlings are ready to leave the nest. After leaving the nest the birds wander in flocks through the landscape in search for food – in spring and summer the main food consist of insects, in autumn it can feed on berries and in winter it prefers oily nutrient-rich seeds.

Migration: Blue Tit is a permanent resident in our country but part of the population migrate south into Mediterranean. In winter the birds from North can be found in Middle Europe. During the cold days the Blue Tits gather with other Tits and small passerines and search for food altogether in small flocks.









Last Updated on Friday, 18 December 2009 02:45
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