How much do you know about Blue Tits?

A Blue Tit in a nesting box at the Paxton Pits Nature Reserve. 

A Blue Tit in a nesting box at the Paxton Pits Nature Reserve. - Credit: PETER HAGGER

The Blue Tit was the first bird that I can remember being shown by my mother when I was about six years old.  They were attracted to our north Leeds garden by the remains of the Sunday joint being hung up on the clothesline.

So, I have known the Blue Tit virtually all my life, but only recently have I come to realise just how little I really know about this familiar bird. So, I decided to try and find out more.

Firstly, the BTO tell us that the Blue Tit is Britain’s seventh most common bird, with some 3.4 million pairs.

Our bird box had been occupied from mid-March, and the birds are seemingly feeding young on May 24.  So, just what has been going on here in the last 2 months?

We do not have a nest box camera, so we cannot say when the egg laying started, but incubation can take up to two weeks. The female will not begin sitting until the clutch is complete.


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The maximum number of eggs ever recorded is 17, unless you know differently. Seemingly the normal number of eggs is between 10 and 12. Fledging usually takes another 15-21 days, so our young birds should be ready to leave any time now.

The young are fed by both parents. As far as I can establish Blue Tits are normally single brooded, a second is exceptional and only when the first early brood is lost.

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Most small garden birds live very short lives, with about half of adult Tits dying annually, with young mortality being much higher, with most young birds not managing to see through the first winter.

However, records show that some birds live a great deal longer. The oldest Blue Tit lived to the ripe old age of 11 years and three months.

This is a dangerous world for all the young birds – our houses and gardens are full of hazards: cats, Sparrowhawks, Crows, Magpies and our glass window panels. However, starvation is the main cause of death, especially for young birds.

Readers with nest cams, can, I am sure add more to our knowledge, but what all this has demonstrated to me is just how little we all know about our most familiar garden bird.






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