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Long-tailed tit – Garden Bird Identification

Long-tailed tit

Long-tailed tit

(Aegithalos caudatus)

Identification

The long-tailed tit or long-tailed bushtit (Aegithalos caudatus) is a common bird found throughout Europe and Asia. Related to several species in Asia, but there is only one species found in the UK and Europe; long-tailed tits are small-bodied, long-tailed birds with short legs and tiny, triangular bills

In all plumages has an extraordinarily long tail (7cm) in comparison to the size of its body

Diet

These attractive birds eat insects throughout the year, especially the eggs and larve of moths and butterflies. The may occasionally east seeds in Autumn and Winter when their main food sources are scarce.

Long-tailed tit
Long-tailed tit

Breeding Habits

Outside the breeding season they form compact flocks of 3 to 30 birds, composed of family parties (parents and offspring) from the previous breeding season, together with any extra adults that helped to raise a brood. These tits nest in trees and often in gorse bushes. If the nest is found by a predator then the pair will attempt to make a new nest. If it is too late in the season then the birds that have lost thier nest will help other breeding pairs, what scientists call “co-operative breeding”. Often the birds they help are related to them, and they will help bring food to the young and defend the group’s territory.

Longtail Tit Bird Song / Call

Outside of the summer breeding season Longtail tits are usually seen in flocks of up to 30 individuals and can be easily heard by their distincitve call. Actually, they have three main calls, a single high pitched ‘pit’, a ‘triple trill’ eez-eez-eez, and a rattling ‘schnuur’. The members in a flock will keep up a continuous chatter while working their way along a hedgerow or through the forest.

Listen here:


 

How to attaract Longtail Tits to Your Garden?

Are you noticing more longtail tits recently? Well, you may be because this species really has bucked the trend of songbird declines, having almost doubled in numbers since the 1980s. Why? As often is the case, a variety of reasons but mainly, long-tailed tits are especially vulnerable to long spells of cold weather, which make it harder for them to find food and keep up their energy levels. The recent mild winters mean more survive into springtime.

As Longtail tits rarely eat seeds and other commercially available birdfood unless they can find nothing else, you dont often see them at garden bird tables. The best way to attract them is to leave a pile of logs in a damp place in your garden. This will naturally attract insects who will lay their eggs here. This is what longtail tits most like to eat!