No prizes for guessing what the species of the day is…
Long Tailed tits: Aegithalos Caudatus
Long tailed tits are tiny birds measuring between 13-15 cm (tail included). Plumage is mainly black and white with varying amounts of grey and pink. There are several sub species of long tailed tits found throughout the world, only one type is found in Europe and the UK.
They are widespread through temperate Northern Europe and their range stretches from Northern Scandinavia to the Southern Mediterranean zone. In Britain it is common and only absent from areas of high altitudes and the west coast of Ireland. It is rarely seen on the islands of the outer Hebrides.
They use a range of habitats, including deciduous and mixed woodland, scrub heath land with some trees, bushes and hedges in farmlands and woodland areas close to rivers. They prefer nesting in scrub areas.
Their diet is relatively varied and includes insects and their larvae, spiders and sometimes berries. Whilst visiting gardens they show a fondness for suet cake and peanuts.
Mating can take place as early as late Febuary when members of the same flock will pair off. Males will stay in their winter territories whilst females will sometimes stray into neighbouring territories. Outside of the breeding season they will form small and tight knit flocks of between 3-30 birds and defend their territory against neighbouring flocks. Breeding will start in early April and laying starts in May. Clutches can vary from 5 to 16 eggs. Both adults feed the juveniles and are often assisted by local birds who have failed to breed successfully. Juveniles with more ‘foster parents’ generally have a higher survival rate than those feed only by both parents. At the end of June and early July birds will reform in their winter flocks in their winter territories.