|The Blue Tit - Martyn Stenning|
|Blue Tit posing prettily on our birdtable - 13 January 2013|
I find Blue Tits very endearing. They pose prettily on our bird table, nest obligingly in the box on the back of the house and surely butter wouldn't melt in their innocent little beaks?
Maybe they're not so cute if you are a rival or a threat. Just before Christmas I was shocked to see two Blue Tits having a brawl in the feet of a hedge in Hempstead Lane. Maybe they were fighting over a nesting site? Martyn's book tells us that "securing a cavity will be the male Blue Tit's first move to attract a mate" or maybe, at a time when food was scarce, they were competing over some tasty morsel. A couple of the country names listed in Mark Cocker's and Richard Mabey's Birds Britannica, "Billy biter" and "Tom bitethumb" reflect their feisty nature.
|At our nest box - 27 Mary 2007|
|Fledgling with yellow gape round its beak - 27 May 2011|
I was astounded when I read, in Martyn's book that they hatch " ... more often very early in the morning ... so the hatchling can feed sufficiently to double its weight from roughly one gram to two grams during the first 24 hours out of the egg shell." I find it remarkable that they can grow so quickly but also that everything is so well synchronised with the hatching matching the time that there are caterpillars to feed on.
The Blue Tits that nest in our box always seem to fledge when I am away but in 2007 they left the nest on a Sunday and I seemed to spend most of the day watching them and shooing off the neighbours' cats. On the 27 of April, fledglings started coming out of the nest just before 9:30am. I still remember the parent bird calling them across the garden from a tree.
|Fledgling hiding in bonsai - 27 Mary 2007|
- The first three got off quickly. These little bundles of fluff tumbled rather than flew from the box. They fluttered and ran across the garden until they reached a conifer. From there, I think they more-or-less parachuted to the Oak.
- Unfortunately the fourth fell in the pond. Although I got it out and put it on the bird table, the parent bird would have nothing further to do with it.
- The last two came out about 5 pm. They both fluttered to the ground and ran across the garden until they encountered an obstacle, which they would then climb to use as a launch pad for the next part of their journey. It was fascinating to see them climb our wall with their surprisingly large feet.
Now, at the end of a snowy March, I'm hoping to see Blue Tits inspecting our box so the whole cycle can start again.