Bird of the Month - January

Bird of the Month - January

Published: 1st January 2020

Bird of the Month – January – Long-Tailed Tits

Scientific name: Aegithalos caudatus

It’s a new year and a fresh start for friendships and family relationships to blossom. As such the January bird of the month is one known for its large social groups including immediate and extended family; the aptly named long-tailed tit. These birds can often be found in groups of around 10-20 individuals that will work together to source and share food supplies.

As their name suggests, one of their key features is the length of their tail which is longer than that of their bodies. With the right weather conditions and enough available food, they can live up to 2 years old.

Breeding: 

The average clutch size for long-tailed tits is between 8-12 eggs, although fortunate parents can see this increase to as many as 15. To avoid overcrowding in their nests, long-tailed tits make them stretchy to accommodate the vast number of chicks. Like most birds, insects are the primary source of food for the chicks, quite often the parents are assisted with the chore of feeding the young by extended family members.

Long-tailed tit chicks will start to leave their nests after only 14-18 days. This is a necessity due to the strain to the nest structure. They will make their first flights in the outside world, but will not fly far from their parents. Instead they will increase the size of the family social group and assist with finding food in the wild for everyone.

Abundance:

Long-tailed tits can be found in over 340,000 breeding territories in the UK (with the exception of the far north and west of Scotland). They frequent gardens and parks during the autumn and winter working their way along hedgerows and trees looking for insects. In recent years they have adapted to using bird feeders when the weather is particularly cold. In the wider countryside they can often be found in mixed tit flocks frequenting woodland, hedgerows, scrubland and heathland

Identification: 

Their key identifying feature is the length of their tails which is longer than that of their bodies.

Long-tailed tits have a range of feather colours including black, brown, cream, pink and purple. They have short thin black beaks and brown legs.

Measurements:

The average long-tailed tit can grow to an approximate length of 14cm, with an average wingspan of 16-19cm and weigh approximately 7-10g.

Nesting: 

The intricate nest can take as long as three weeks to build, construction starts in early February to ensure they are ready for the start of spring in March. Moss, animal hair and feathers are used to make an oval shaped nest with a single entrance hole. Nests are lined with up to 1,500 feathers and covered with lichen and spider webs to help camouflage them from predators.

Nests can be built in a variety of locations, often low down in bramble or hawthorn scrub and sometimes higher up, tight against the trunk of a forked tree. There will often be a short gap of a few days between the nest being completed and the first batch of eggs being laid.

What they eat:

Long-tailed tits eat insects and spiders, but will occasionally eat seeds during the autumn and winter months.

Suggested products:

Below is a list of items that you can find in Scotsdales stores. These are merely suggestions; we have many other great products available that are suited for long-tailed tits dietary requirements. 

Suet Treat packs
Various size ranges available in store (whilst stocks last). Suet treats can be used with bird feeders, on the ground or on bird tables. 

We recommend the Gardman Seed and Insect Suet Treats – 1.1KG – £6.99. Available in all stores and online (whilst stocks last).

Mealworms
Various size ranges available in store (whilst stocks last). Mealworms can be used with bird feeders, on the ground, window feeders or on bird tables. 

We recommend the Gardman Supreme Mealworm Blend 1.8kg –  £5.99. Available in all stores and online (whilst stocks last).

Blue Tit Blends
Various size ranges available in store (whilst stocks last). Blue tit blends can be used with bird feeders, on the ground or on bird tables. 

We recommend the Gardman Supreme Blue Tit Blend 1.8kg –  £5.99. Available in all stores and online (whilst stocks last).

Bird safety:

Please remember, that one of the commonest problems with local wildlife health issues in the UK is due to neglected and dirty feeders. We would like to ask that anyone wishing to assist in the feeding of wild birds makes sure to check and clean feeders regularly to help keep them safe and healthy. 

Looking for further advice?

Then why not pop into your local Scotsdales store today and speak with a member of our knowledgeable team. We will be happy to assist in any way we can with advice and guidance regarding the best options for birds in your garden.