Wildlife In Focus | Long-Tailed Tit

David Coultham

Updated on:

It’s difficult to think of a bird that is any cuter than the Long Tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus). It’s the combination of their small size, body-to-tail proportions, tiny little beaks and beady eyes, and their pastel coloring.

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Video | Everything You Need To Know About The Long Tailed Tit

Conservation Status

Seasonal fluctuations in the weather are the main impact on the Long-Tailed Tit, and consequently, their numbers can fluctuate dramatically.1 Climate change is suggested as a positive impact on the species.2 In any case, their high breeding potential has enabled them to stabilize the populations despite any yearly fluctuations. From a conservation standpoint, they are on the UK Green list and registered as Least Concern from a global viewpoint.

Conservation Status

Diet

Long Tailed Tits feed on insects, but will also eat seeds & berries. They are frequent visitors to bird feeders.

HABITAT

Long Tailed Tits are woodland birds favoring broadleaf environments, but have adapted to the loss of habitat, and can be found in a range of habitats including hedgerows parks, and gardens. They can be found across the U.K. except on higher ground and some of the isles. It is estimated that there are up to 380 thousand breeding territories.4

Note that this map is for a rough illustration of animal distribution across the UK1, whereby light green indicates established populations.

Behavior

You will often hear Long Tailed Tits before you see them. They have distinctive calls and often travel in large family groups in search of food. During the winter you may also spot them in mixed flocks of woodland birds.

DID YOU KNOW? Long Tailed Tits keep warm at night by huddling together in a group!

They are instantly recognizable and difficult to mistake for any other bird in the British Isles. As their name suggests, their tails are quite long, in fact, longer than their bodies. They are pale in color ranging from white, cream, brown, pink, & purple. They also have distinctive black stripes on their white heads and sport a pink blush on their breasts.

Long-Tailed Tit Call:

Thierry THOMAS, xeno-canto.org

The Long Tailed Tit builds an intricate domed nest from lichen, cobwebs, and feathers and lay a single clutch of eggs in spring. Both parents share the task of raising the chicks and are also assisted by younger non-breeding birds. A clutch of eggs consists of between 6 and 8 eggs, which hatch after 3 weeks and are fully fledged after a further 2 weeks.

STATS

Adults weigh up to 8.7 grams with a wing length of up to 64mm.3

They typically live for 2 years, but the oldest recorded Long-Tailed Tit was nearly 9 years old.

NATURAL PREDATORS

As with many woodland birds, they are predated by Sparrowhawks. Their nests including both chicks and eggs are vulnerable to predation by mammals.

WHERE & WHEN TO SEE

Because they are so widely distributed across the U.K., you can pretty much spot them anywhere, although your best chance is at garden feeders, but be alert; as they are often very fleeting visitors.

References

  1. NSO | Breeding season weather determines long-tailed tit reproductive success through impacts on recruitment
  2. Pearce-Higgins, J.W. & Crick, H.Q.P. (2019) One-third of English breeding bird species show evidence of population responses to climatic variables over 50 years. Bird Study 66: 159–172
  3. featherbase
  4. Population data based on BTO assessment


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