Monday, 2 November 2009

Breeding and Flocking in the Long Tailed Tit

Long Tailed Tit

The Long tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) is not really a tit. They belong to a separate family – Aegithalidae.

Long Tailed Tit

These tiny birds are easily recognisable by their long tail ( longer than its body) and ball like body on which its head is barely distinct.

Long Tailed Tit

The beak is really tiny and on occasion, I`ve had to look close to check if it actually had one!

Long Tailed Tit

In these pictures you can see that it has something in between its beak. I initially thought it could be food. Since there were two of them, I thought it could be a pair gathering food for its young.

Long Tailed Tit

However, its way too early for it to be breeding and the birds seemed to be hopping about within the bushes and collecting more of the sawdust looking powder. I think it could possibly be material that they are collecting to build a nest.

Long Tailed Tit

The long tailed tit’s nest is a complex affair built out of an assortment of material varying from spider web to lichens and human hair.

Long Tailed Tit

The nest is generally built in bushes, or trees and takes up to 3 weeks to complete. When finished, it contains an average of 1500 –200 feathers apart from all the other material and is dome shaped.

Long Tailed Tit

When complete the female lays eggs which are white with purplish-red spots, and are about 14 mm by 10 mm. The eggs are incubated by the female.

Long Tailed Tit

An interesting fact about these birds is that when the young hatch, additional birds help to feed and rear them. These are mostly failed breeders and it is thought that they may be related to the breeding pair.

Long Tailed Tit

This relationship between the family is also maintained later on and all the birds in a flock are thought to belong to a single family.

Long Tailed Tit

The flock stays together in tight noisy groups with their constant  repeated “Tsurp” calls.

                        

If one member gets separated, the others will go back to “rescue” it a fact that is employed by birders to attract a flock.

Such a cute bird.

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