On dark and gloomy November days, when light is scarce in between home and school, a flash of blue and green flitting around your garden will brighten the darkness and chase away the homework (or any type of) blues! It can lift your heart in a beat and brings a welcome burst of colour to your garden feeders. I absolutely love the flamboyant Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)! These tiny little bundles of joy love the peanut feeders in our garden and the most common resident bird in our gardens here in the UK and Ireland. I have to say, it’s getting difficult to write, manage school work and make time for school rowing but I find it hard to ignore the pull of recording, researching and writing about nature, it helps me so much! I have been reading lots about Blue Tits and they are so interesting!

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My mum tells me stories of how the blue tit used to peck the foil of the milk bottles and scoff the cream! The cream is lactose free and high in fat, so not only can it digest it (unlike the milk below) but it’s a great source of energy, clever birds! The first recording of this amusing behaviour was in 1920’s Southampton and then it was noticed in London in 1935. Apparently some blue tits met their demise and fell into the bottle, not so clever. This activity is now part of folklore these days, I don’t think many people get their milk delivered in foil topped milk bottles these days? If they do, I wonder if today’s blue tits carry on the legacy.

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Ha! This Blue Tit looks like it has a Mohican with a burglar Bill eye mask on! So cute.

The beautiful  breast of this quirky bird is due to the food they eat; certain caterpillars which consume carotene rich plant leaves. The more caterpillars eaten, the brighter the breast and the best and brightest get the mate. Brilliant pest controllers, Blue Tits are great to have in your garden, especially during nesting season. Blue Tit parents can make up to 400-1,000 nest trips daily to feed their young 15,000 flies or caterpillars over the three week period. Amazing! The adult birds only eat the smaller caterpillars and save the fat and juicy ones for their young, this is because they only have one brood per year; they need to fatten them up for survival. Unfortunately, the survival rate for chicks outside the nest can be as little as 10%. That is nature though and the Sparrowhawk and Magpie also have chicks to feed but cats are the main culprits, when a bell is fitted for instance, this happening can be reduced.

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These colourful and charismatic creatures have also got some peculiar nesting habits! In Ireland recently they have been found in the outdoor ashtrays outside pubs etc and even in post boxes! If we provide special nest boxes in our gardens though, it’s a much cosier option and of course they’ll be close to their food source too. Funnily, the French Blue Tits bring mint and lavender into a nest which is particularly smelly. Ooh la la, very chic!

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Taking turns, a House Sparrow waiting for some peanuts!

Another amazingly interesting thing is that not only are their azure blue crowns beautifully bright, it also glows in ultra violet light –  they also see the world in ultra violet. Astounding! Lots of research took place into birds and ultraviolet light in 1970’s and there are more discoveries with each passing decade. it’s absolutely amazing. I love these birds even more now, they are such quirkily charismatic garden visitors and they just make my heart sing! A very welcome customer and I really look forward to next years family – we have at least 9 individual blue tits flitting around in our garden. Each and every one, a tiny gust of colour and hope. If you haven’t already, pop a peanut feeder or a buggy nibble one in your garden and wait, they will come and they’ll bring you a smile as a reward.

I hope you enjoyed reading a little about the beautiful Blue Tit! My next blog will be about our visit to the beautiful Aghatirourke RSPB Nature Reserve, such an inspiring place, but for now, it’s back to my school work!

Thanks for reading

Dara