Blue Tit

(Cyanistes caeruleus)

Alert Status: Green
Identifying Features: Bight blue head cap and dark blue eye stripe with yellow belly
Average Length: 11.5 cm
Average Lifespan: 3 Years
Average Wingspan: 17.5-20 cm
Beak type: Insects

Feeding: NaturalCaterpillars and seeds. In springtime they feed also on pollen, nectar and sap, and in the autumn on berries.
How to feed them: Hanging feeders
What: Peanuts, suet cakes, seed mixes, sunflower hearts & seeds

Nesting: Small nest box with 25mm hole
Where to see: Widespread across the UK. Gardens, parks & woodland

Blue Tit song by Tony Whitehead, Xeno-c
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Fascinating Facts

Blue tits are noisy, sociable and inquisitive birds. With delightful colours of blue, yellow, white and green in their plumage, they rarely fail to make us smile. Both sexes are similar in appearance, though the female is slightly paler.

Acrobatic and cheeky, the blue tit is one of the most recognisable garden visitors and loves the feeders and tables that we keep stocked up with food. Blue tits are by far the most common species of tit in the UK, and will readily breed in nest boxes put up in gardens.

Providing suet, peanuts and black sunflower seeds will give a valuable source of nutrients and energy. All especially important when the birds are entering breeding season.

Both males and females search for nest holes. If the male finds somewhere suitable he will put on a display of fluttering wings, and will call loudly to his mate. Hopefully he will grab her attention enough for her to follow him into the hole and approve his choice. This doesn’t always happen though, she may reject several before deciding on the one she wants!

The female will build the nest with little or no help from the male. She uses moss to form a cup shape. The nest is then lined with soft feathers, fur or wool. This usually takes between one and two weeks.

 

Around the beginning of May she will start to lay one egg a day, usually first thing in the morning. The white eggs are smooth and glossy, with purplish-red or redish-brown spots. Blue tits have one of the largest clutch sizes of all birds – up to 16 eggs! However, the majority of clutches contain 8-12 eggs.

The eggs will be covered with some nest lining by the female, if she needs to leave the nest - Incubation only begins when the clutch is complete, meaning her first egg could lie dormant for a fortnight before development of the embryo inside begins.

Chicks are fed by both parents, each chick can eat 100 caterpillars a day. It’s amazing to think that it only takes around 20 days for the chicks to fledge. 10 eggs, 20 days and 20,000 caterpillars later, you have 10 healthy blue tits!

Blue tits will use their strong legs and claws to hang at any angle and investigate clusters of buds or pick off a caterpillar from a leaf. They are also able to cling onto walls, fences and other structures in the garden to find hiding insects and other invertebrates.

British blue tits are strictly resident, seldom moving far from where they hatched.

Domestic cats are a major cause of mortality, and responsible for 42% of ringing recoveries.

No other British tit has blue in its plumage.

When milk used to be delivered to our doors by milkmen, blue tits would remove the foil from the bottle of milk and collect the cream from the top. Sneaky little things!

The yellowness of a male blue tits breast is an indication of the number of yellowy-green caterpillars he has eaten.

A blue tit weighs the same as a pound coin and one egg weighs about a tenth of it’s mothers body weight.

Blue tits carefully time the hatching of their eggs to the bud burst of trees and the explosion of caterpillar prey that come with it.

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