Nature > Birds > Tits


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  Blue tit


Of the eight members of the tit family native to Britain, six can be found in and around Barford all year round. Don’t expect to see a bearded tit or a crested tit on your bird table, but the other varieties are more or less frequent visitors to Warwickshire.

Blue tit:

With its vibrant mix of blue, yellow, white and green, the blue tit is one of Britain’s favourite garden birds. They are attracted to almost every garden with a peanut feeder, and they readily breed in nestboxes.

Blue tit

They are not just beautiful but they have brains too – this bird is no bimbo! When faced with “intelligence test” equipment, blue tits have learned to pull open matchboxes or remove a series of pegs in order to retrieve a tasty peanut. To them, the foil top of a milk bottle presents no protection for the cream underneath.

Originally, blue tits were woodland birds and in winter they often join in large flocks with other species of tits to forage for insects, seeds and nuts.

For more on the blue tit, click to visit the RSPB website or BBC Wildfacts.

Great tit:

The largest UK tit - the great tit has a black and white head, bright yellow breast with a bold, black stripe running down it, and a green back.

Great titLike blue tits, they were originally woodland birds, but adapted readily to man-made habitats to become a familiar garden visitor. It can be quite aggressive at a bird table, pulling its weight to fight off smaller tits.

The great tit has a wide range of songs, with the bright “see saw” sound being most distinctive and familiar in Spring.

For more on the great tit, click to visit the RSPB website or BBC Wildfacts.

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Coal tit:

The smallest member of the tit family, the coal tit can be distinguished by the white spot on the back of the neck. It is more shy, and a less frequent garden visitor, than some of its relatives

Coal titNot as colourful as some other tits, the coal tit has a grey back, black cap, and white patch at the back of its neck. Its smaller, more slender bill than blue or great tits means it can feed more successfully in conifers. A regular visitor to most peanut feeders, they will take and store food for eating later.

For more on the coal tit, click to visit the RSPB website or BBC Wildfacts.

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Long tailed tit:

The long-tailed tit is easily recognisable with its pink, black and white plumage, a tail that is noticeably longer than its body, and distinctive undulating flight.

Gregarious and noisy, long-tailed tits are most usually noticed in small, excitable flocks of about 20 birds. Like most tits, they rove the woods and hedgerows, but are frequent visitors to Barford gardens.

For more on the long tailed tit, click to visit the RSPB website.

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Willow tit and Marsh tit:

Much less common than the other tits, the willow and marsh tits are almost indistinguishable from each other in appearance. The willow tit is between blue and great tits in size, but with no yellow, green or blue. It has a large black cap extending to the back of the neck and a small black bib. Its wings show a pale panel not found in marsh tits. Recent falls in their populations, with declines of over 50% in the last 25 years, put both of these tits on the conservation “Red List” in 2002.

For more on the willow tit, click to visit the RSPB website.

For more on the marsh tit, click to visit the RSPB website.

To read more about the "Red List" in "The State of the UK's Birds, 2002" (PDF file, 749k), click here.

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Nest boxes:

Watching birds nesting in your garden can be very rewarding, especially if they are in a purpose-built nestbox. Over 60 species are known to have used nestboxes, including of course blue and great tits.

For information on how to make a nestbox, including siting and maintenance, click here to visit the RSPB website.

Nest boxes should be in place by the end of February, for tits begin house hunting early in the year.

Tits using nest boxes are always great fun to watch. It is always obvious when the eggs hatch, as both parents engage in a frenzy of foraging for food from morning till night. And you think you have a tough time with your youngsters!

But after about three weeks, the young birds will hopefully pop out of the nest box to face the hazards of the world outside on their own. No need for the parents to pay University tuition fees here!

Blue tits have successfully raised families in our Barford garden nest box for the last three years, and we hope 2005 will be a good year too. The birds were already checking out the nest box in early March.

For great pictures both inside and outside the bird box, and brilliant videos of nesting blue tits to test out your new broadband connection, please click to visit DaViv’s website.

Another website with excellent photographs and interesting observations is "Turning Earth".

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