Saturday, 2 February 2013

Blue Tit


order : Passeriformes      Genus & Species : Paridae     Family : Parus caeruleus

With unflagging energy, the blue tit explores its surroundings, searching crevices for tasty morsels and holes for potential nesting sites. A tiny ball of energy, the blue tit forages restlessly for insects and nuts. Its size enables it to exploit food sources hidden from larger species. They found throughout most of Europe as far east as Russia and Ukraine; also common in northwestern Africa; occurs in Middle East from Turkey and Syria to Iraq. 

Habitat : The blue tit thrives in wooded habitats, including palmfringed Saharan oases and Mediterranean olive groves. It avoids conifer plantations, preferring deciduous trees. On agricultural land, the blue tit inhabits orchards, thickets and hedgerows, and is often found around farmyards in winter; when the weather turns cold, it forages on open fields and among reedbeds. The blue tit’s familiarity as a garden bird has grown with the increase in nestboxes and bird feeders. Parks and treelined avenues also provide suitable breeding territories. 
Food & Feeding : The blue tit’s agility and curiosity make it an innovative foraging bird. By prodding at any object, it discovers new food sources, such as the cream at the top of a bottle of milk — a habit that began in the 1920s. The blue tit finds most of its prey among foliage, often hanging by one leg in order to inspect twigs, leaves and buds for insects. It uses similar acrobatics when sipping nectar from flowers. The bird holds nuts against a perch before cracking them open. Experiments at bird feeders have shown the blue tit to be a good puzzle solver. This clever bird is able to do simple tasks in sequence to obtain a reward of food. 
Behavior : Pugnacious by nature, the blue tit regularly fights other small birds for food and territory in spring and summer. In winter, however, it forages in mixed flocks of small birds, including goldcrests, warblers and treecreepers. The blue tit usually dominates other species in such groups, except when the more powerful great tit is present. In winter the blue tit may move from exposed upland areas into sheltered valleys, but it rarely travels more than 6 miles from where it hatched. In Britain, the bird is sometimes joined by its more brightly colored subspecies, which make sporadic migrations when food shortages coincide with high populations. In summer, the blue tit roosts in trees and bushes but, uses sheltered holes in winter. Natural sites include hollows in trees, but nest boxes left in position after the breeding season also provide the bird with vital nighttime accommodations. 
Breeding : In spring, the male blue tit performs displays to attract a mate, including slow, gliding flights and vigorous prancing with his crest erected. The female frequently begs food from her mate, who responds by bringing her insects. This activity reinforces the pair bond and gives the female the extra nutrition she needs to produce a clutch of eggs. The female builds a nest in a tree hole, wall crevice or nest box from moss and grass, and lines it with feathers. She incubates the eggs alone, but both parents feed the chicks freshly hatched caterpillars, which are abundant at this time. 

Bill : The stubby bill is used as a hammer to crack open nuts and tough insects, such as beetles. 
Color : The female tends to be slightly duller than the male, with a less prominent belly stripe. 
Head : Distinctively marked, the head is square with a flat top.The bird raises the blue feathers of its crown when alarmed. 
Feet : Short, flexible toes exert a strong grip. A front toe may be angled backward to give the bird a better hold on tree trunks or walls. 
Tail : The squared tail acts as a balance when the bird perches, and as a prop when it climbs on tree trunks. 

Weight : 0.35–0.45 oz. 
Length : 4.5" 
Wingspan : 7-8" 
Sexual Maturity : 1 year
Breeding Season : April–June 

A blue tit with young spends up to 17 hours a day gathering food.