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Blue Tits Become Next Door Neighbours In April 2018

Blue Cap; Blue Bonnet; Nun, and Tree babbler are just some of the names given to our native Irish Blue Tit.

Here in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, this year, two such Blue Tits, whom we affectionately came to know as Thomas Tit and Sharon Tit, moved in quite unexpectedly to a newly installed Tit box.

Blue tits are small, lightweight, short legged, acrobatic and highly intelligent birds, with a somewhat convivial nature, most often found hanging upside down from branches and bird feeders, in their endless search for insects and seeds.

Once the removers of foil milk bottle caps; from once door to door milk bottle deliveries; stealing the energy rich non-lactose cream; the sturdy beaks of these little birds are well suited to their diet of fruit, seeds and berries in the autumn and winter; while changing to mostly larvae, insects and spiders, found in abundance during spring and summer.

Sharon Tit remained in total command with regard to family matters, especially when it came to choosing not just a mate, but also a home/nest site. The breeding season for Tits usually starts in early to mid-April. In the weeks before egg laying, Sharon Tit increased her weight by 50%, aided by food collected and shared with the help of partner Thomas Tit.

Tits will usually build their nests in holes and crevices in trees, walls or in this case a nest box purchased from O’Driscoll’s Garden Centre, here in Thurles. But Tits have been known to nest in such places as rural ‘An Post’ letter boxes.

Sharon Tit formed a deep hollow in her chosen, soft hair nest materials, by simply wriggling and continuously twisting around and around, while continued to erect higher sides. The nest when complete saw Sharon Tit producing nearly her own weight in eggs, laying one egg each day for 12 days.

Her eggs took 14 to 16 days to hatch completely and both Sharon and Thomas, together, made up to 300 daily visits  to and from the nursery, during the first few days.  Together these visits rose to some 800 or more each day, prior to the youngsters leaving the nest.

As can be seen in the video above, Tits will collect caterpillars, feeding themselves only the smallest; while feeding the larger ones, containing the most energy, to their siblings. No need for pesticides here, as the dietary practises of Sharon and Thomas Tit made them extremely effective pest controllers in the gardens; feeding their babies as many as 15,000 flies, spiders and green caterpillars in the first three week as parents.

Three weeks on, with all children left the nursery, Sharon and Thomas Tit continued to support this family roaming freely for a further two weeks, but at five weeks old they were abandoned to fend for themselves, as is normal Tit family practise.

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