Web camera image captured by Airras, LK forum
Blue tits weigh nearly half less than our largest great tits, a little more than 10 grams, and length too is about an inch less. They are herbivores in winter but at birdfeeders fat balls can be found, somewhere surely fat-and-oats mixture is offered in a ”tit bell”, and in some houses lard. Tits are happily busy at the latter.
The early morning diligent blue tits appear when the first great tits have visited the feeder; then comes the turn of the blue tits, more prudent about the surroundings and a little more shy but defter. A seed is quickly snatched, and the bird is gone.
Mostly adult birds or blue tit pairs that have already nested together spend the winter in Estonia (if they have managed to evade all dangers). They have similar plumages. The round head of the little blue tits seems to be attached to the body, as if there were no neck, and on the yellow chest we don’t see the familiar black band of the great tits but only a darker little streak. The sky blue crown is circled by a white head band, the males sometimes raise the blue feathers of the crown (see Arne’s photo below), cheeks are brightly white. The areas around the eyes, the little beak and under the chin are covered by a narrow blackish mask. At the back of the neck it is dark blue, as is the collar at the nape. Back plumage shimmers in green, wings and tail in blue. A white streak on the wings – similar to great tits. The little legs are greyish-blue.
A lengthy and somewhat cumbersome description but there is much more to tell. Even this, that the black mask covering the eyes is a substitute for sunglasses for blue tits; but some things must be left for coming years too.
When necessary the tiny blue tits are quarrelsome in fighting for a place for themselves at the feeding table, and larger but slower birds know to dread the little sharp beak and claws.
The juveniles that saw daylight this summer have been brought to Central or Western Europe by their wandering urge. The winter numbers are estimated to be greater than 150 000 individuals. You can still make your contribution to the winter bird census on Sunday. The weather seems already to be a little milder – or are we already used to winter?
Blue tit observations: LINK
Photo: Arne Ader