Clare Teal: Busy few months await our new visitor Betty the blue tit

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Muddy noticed the other day that we had potential new neighbours looking at a house nearby.

The house is about 8in tall and the neighbours are blue, yellow and feathery. This is exciting news – the little bird house went up on the wall last autumn so our beaky friends could get used to it.

Unfortunately it blew away in the recent storms, but our hero tracked it down and fixed it more firmly to the fence. In view of these events we feared any future inhabitants might deem our little wooden box with the teal green roof unsafe, but no – a blue tit has been seen popping in and out of the tiny front door/hole.

Blue tits spend most of March eating and partying... not surprisingly I have been known to do this too. Apparently birds use this extra energy to keep in shape whilst producing eggs.

Come April we should see Betty Blue Tit start to build the nest all on her own.

She has to lug great chunks of moss about with little or no help from himself. It can take her up to two weeks to complete. The nest is ready once it has been lined with soft feathers (whose I’m not sure – possibly his!) fur or wool.

Having built her nest, Betty then has the exhausting task of laying eggs, one per day, usually early in the morning. These tiny weeny little birds can lay up to 16 eggs per clutch but average eight to 12.

The day before all the eggs are in one basket she creates a brood patch to incubate the eggs by plucking bare a small area of her own abdomen feathers (that’s love). She then sits on the eggs for two weeks, hoping that himself will pop by with a takeaway.

In late May the featherless, blind, squawky mouths are a hungry reality and Betty spends her days searching for food and sitting on the clutch to keep them warm (or possibly quiet).

By the end of May both parents are having to find up to 100 caterpillars per chick per day!

In early June we should see our little guys ready to fledge. I’m tempted to put a little trampoline underneath just in case. The juveniles hang around for couple of weeks learning the ropes then finally Betty puts her little feet up.

The average lifespan of a blue tit is 18 months.