The Blue Tit: The cheerful harbinger of Spring

Victoria Marston takes a look at the cheerful, colourful bird whose busy activity is such a feature of the season.

Although seen all year, blue tits have an affinity with springtime, hopping busily among blossom-laden branches, wearing pale-yellow and blue plumage that seems to echo the season’s cheering daffodils and bluebells. Small, fluffy-looking and hyperactive, their restless activity has its own charm — but it’s also practical, keeping them alert to predators, particularly parrowhawks.

Holes in trees make preferred nesting sites, but Cyanistes caeruleus readily uses a nest box when offered, building a cosy cup of moss, wool, hair and feathers into which some 8–12 eggs will be laid. A sodden breeding season can be disastrous, as caterpillars for the chicks become scarce.

Blue tit, Cyanistes caeruleus.

They can be helped with the provision of suitable small-seed mixtures without whole nuts, such as Peckish Nesting & Young Bird Mix or suet foods containing insects.

Some two-thirds of fledglings won’t survive a year and three years is the best most can hope for, but juveniles can be recognised by their pale-yellow cheeks, which turn white with adulthood. The oldest recorded bird reached the grand old age of 21 — a veritable Methuselah.


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