You should leap at chance to see these cute birds
IF you have been out for a winter or early spring walk in woodland you may have noticed flocks of small birds leaping up into the air just ahead.
These fluffy balls with long tails won’t hang around for you to get a good look at them but they are likely to be long-tailed tits.
I am loath to use the word ‘cute’, but these birds are the epitome of cute.
They are seriously beautiful little pink birds, if not our most delightful small creature.
The long-tailed tits have a black, white and pink back, a white head with a wide black eye stripe and pale pink belly. They are stunning to look at if you are lucky enough to spot one. They live up to their name with black-and- white tails that are bigger than their bodies.
This tail is a great help as they hang off branches and feeders – it balances that tiny body as is twists and spins.
Long-tailed tits build a domed nest in a bush or the fork of a tree using moss, which they camouflage with cobwebs and lichen. Last year in a local park they built a nest on a wire fence to the delight of local photographers.
Over spring they came and went and then started to feed chicks inside the nest. The little ones finally popped out and made us all feel very proud.
As well as showing off, these long-tailed tits believe in home comforts and line their nest with feathers. They can use up to 1,500 to make a soft landing for the eight to 12 eggs they lay.
While they hunt out insects and spiders in trees, you may see them on bird tables in parks and gardens. And they will mix with other tits in flocks in winter, keeping warm and safe in numbers. Earlier this year, I was sitting behind a screen close to bird feeders taking pictures of long-tailed tits.
I felt so privileged that they came so close to the screen as they pecked at the bird feeders and cleaned their beaks on tree branches.
I should have left that perfect spot after 10 minutes but I found myself mesmerized for more than an hour.
Walking and watching, it’s all part of the job and, taking into account some of the wonderful things I get to see, it’s a great job.
But sitting in the middle of feeding long-tailed tits was certainly a high point.
To support the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, text WILD09 with the amount you want to donate to 70070.
The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is dedicated to the protection and promotion of the wildlife in Lancashire, seven boroughs of Greater Manchester and four of Merseyside. To become a member of the Trust go to the website at www. lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129.
For more information call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewildlifetrust. org.uk.
●● Long-tailed tits at bird feeder