• Wildlife Friendly Otley

BLUE TIT


In my first bird book – a well-thumbed Observer’s Book of British Birds – it was charmingly named the Blue Titmouse or Tom Tit, and accurately described as “a very popular little acrobat”. In 2011 the RSPB estimated there were 3.5 million breeding pairs in the UK, and when not nesting in holes in trees they are keen on the nestboxes we provide. Apparently, if your foolish enough to poke a finger through the nestbox hole, an incubating female will hiss and bite at it, giving rise to the nickname “Little Billy Biter” in the south-west of England. The photo shows a brood in an Otley nestbox (consider getting a nest-cam – they’re not as expensive as they used to be). Parent birds have to work extremely hard, and it has been calculated that it’s not unusual for each one to bring food at a peak rate of once every 90 seconds. Much of that food will be caterpillars, and unfortunately this means the species is vulnerable to the bad weather that reduces caterpillar numbers. Adults eat a lot of aphids, and also learned to drink the cream from our doorstep bottles, though I haven’t seen that happen to ours in a long time.

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Masthead photography courtesy of Mark Denton

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