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Living with Birds Long-tailed tits: unpredictable charm Tweetapedia

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Long-tailed tits: unpredictable charm

There are few more charming visitors to the garden than the long-tailed tit, nor any that are more unpredictable. If your garden is within the territory of a family of long-tails, then daily visits are a probability, though there’s no guessing what time they will arrive.

When they do come they’re likely to crowd onto the peanut feeder or birdfood cakes all at once, feeding happily side-by-side, for they are exceptionally sociable little birds. They won’t stay long though, for within a few minutes they will be on their way again, soon disappearing in follow-my-leader fashion.

These family parties range from about eight to around 20 birds and they will remain as a tight flock throughout the winter. They roost together too, often forming a tight ball in order to keep warm. They suffer badly in hard winters but have the ability to quickly rebuild numbers after suffering severe winter losses.

Long-tails are early nesters, building their delightful, comfy-looking nests of feathers and moss in early March. By this time unmated females will have left the family group, pairing with males from adjacent groups. Those pairs that fail to rear young will often help rear the chicks of other members of their group, an endearing trait that is most unusual in the bird world.