Long-tailed Tit

Aegithalos caudatus

14cm (9cm is tail)

Appearance

This is a small, stout bird with short wings and a long thin tail. With pinkish brown upper parts and white underparts tinged with pink, the Long-tailed Tit can appear black and white from a distance. There are white edges to the dark wing feathers, the head is mostly white with a thick dark line above the eye, and the bill is dark and short. Juveniles resemble adults but their heads are an ashy grey colour, the plumage lacks the pinkish tinge, and the face is darker overall.

Habitat

Scrubby areas, hedgerows and the edges of deciduous woods are preferred breeding territories. When not breeding, the Long-tailed Tit is a regular visitor to gardens, particularly with abundant foliage.

Character

The Long-tailed Tit spends a lot of time within family groups, and roosting occurs in groups; birds may use each other’s warmth by tucking in closely next to each other. Moves quickly and regularly when feeding, has a spring display flight reminiscent of a butterfly, and regularly hangs upside down to feed.

Food

Diet includes invertebrates such as flies, beetles and spiders; also feeds on the eggs, larvae and pupae of moths and butterflies. Eats seeds as well and is not afraid of bird feeders.

Breeding

Nesting starts at the end of March or beginning of April; female lays 6-8 eggs and incubates them for about 15 days. Hatchlings fledge at about 16 days old; both parents tend to them for two weeks after this point. Members of families may help neighbouring families to find food.

Population

Most birds have territories they remain within for the duration of their lives, though they may move in flocks around these areas. Families may join together to make flocks, and other small birds may also join. There are approximately 340 000 territories in the UK and 20 000-100 000 in Ireland.

Observation Tips

This bird is most easily observed in its flocks during winter, and is more easily located if the watcher can recognise the bird’s call.

Voice

Has a shaky ‘tsrr’ call, and also a ‘see, see, see’ combined with a ‘thrup’.
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