Long Tailed Tit (mice) are amongst our smallest birds. They use their tails as a counter-balance as they seesaw and flit–tumble from branch to branch. In winter large family groups come to our gardens announcing their arrival with high-pitched, rolling calls of “si-si-si-si-si" and a distinctive trilled ‘tsirrup’: Once you’ve learnt to recognise their call you will always know a flock of long-tailed tits are in the vicinity.
When Spring arrives they pair off to build nest coccoons of wool and moss bound and felted together with spiders webs, lined with feathers and camouflaged with lichen flakes. Inside a single female will lay up to 15 eggs. When broods fail, as often happens, the parents move on to help their brothers and sisters raise their extended families of nephews and nieces.
|photo: Warren Photographic
There was a time when every English village would have had its own name for these birds. Some traditions referred to their appearance: Long Toms, Long-tailed Muffins (Worcestershire), Hedge Mumruffins, Bush Tits, Kitty Long-tails, Fluffits and Juffits, Feather Pokes, Long-tailed Magsor and Millithrums (Miller’s Thumbs). The other tradition was to describe their nests; Oven Birds, Oven Builders (Lothian) and Bush Ovens (Norfolk), Barrel or Bottle Tits (Berkshire) and Bum Barrels (Nottingham)
BRITISH BIRDS IN THIS SERIES SO FAR
Long Tailed Titmice