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Wildlife Whistlestop!

Whether out in the Cree Valley woods or in your own back garden this winter, you will often encounter a tit feeding party. Great, Blue, Coal and Long-tailed Tit, and often other species such as Wren and Treecreeper, gather together to form groups of birds which move systematically through the trees and bushes searching for food. It makes good sense for small birds to feed together as many pairs of eyes are more likely to spot a predator such as a Sparrowhawk, and an insect disturbed by one bird may be caught by another.

Long Tailed TitListen out for the incessant high-pitched sri-sri-sri  call of the Long-tailed Tit often the first sign of these feeding parties. This call helps to keep the family groups of this species together. The different species avoid competition by feeding in different parts of the tree, and by feeding on different things. Oak trees are particularly important to all in winter.

The larger, less nimble Great Tit will spend a good amount of time feeding on the ground, often turning over leaves to find invertebrate prey as well as nuts and acorns which it breaks open whilst holding them with its feet.   The Blue and Coal Tit both mainly feed in the tree branches but the Coal Tit has a more delicate bill and can take smaller prey than the Blue Tit.

The Long-tailed Tit is probably the most acrobatic, feeding on the finer twigs, often hanging upside down to locate hidden prey. The Long-tailed Tit is predominantly insectivorous, whereas the others will eat more seeds and buds.

The Blue and Coal Tit both mainly feed in the tree branches but the Coal Tit has a more delicate bill and can take smaller prey than the Blue Tit. The Long-tailed Tit is probably the most acrobatic, feeding on the finer twigs, often hanging upside down to locate hidden prey. The Long-tailed Tit is predominantly insectivorous, whereas the others will eat more seeds and buds.

(Photo above of Long-tailed Tit by Gavin Chambers)