Blue-tits are everywhere at the moment. They charm us all with their jewel like colours, flashes of sapphire and citrin. They dart around house gables, their beaks full of twigs, looking for nesting spaces. They wrestle the material into tiny spaces and, should they catch you watching, they take off on long tortuous detours, hoping to mislead us from their true addresses.
Last week I walked down my stairs to hear a loud knocking sound come from the ground floor. I immediately suspected my two house rabbits were up to no good. But I wronged them. They were dozing soundly, noses on carpet but still a loud rapping could be heard. I opened the front door to find no-one was there. The noises ceased. I closed the door and the noise began again. Someone came knocking at my wee small door etc.
I opened the door again like an agitated butler. Then it occurred to me to look up and saw at once that my house was a battle zone. The blue tits and the great tits were waging an annual war over nesting sites. At the bird boxes sited around my house, a great-tit was busily enlarging the entrance to a box designed for blue-tits and was about to move in. The blue-tits were screaming in frustration. If they had started to nest in the box, the coal tit, no gentle cousin, would have destroy their eggs and taken over.
But the cuckoo is not the only sneaky bird. A female blue-tit evicted from a birdhouse has been known to creep back and add her own eggs to a great tits nest. She is now free to start a new family while the great-tit expends energy on raising a fledgling that is not its own. Surprisingly the fostered birds thrive and go on to mate with blue-tits the following year. Some scientists speculate that the time spent in a stranger’s nest allows them to develop new bird songs and food sources.
Its like a feathery episode of Dynasty.
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Enchanted England’s Blue Tit Print makes a popular gift. Find out more about it here.