Long-tailed Tits

Long-tailed tits, Aegithalos caudatus, are common throughout Europe and Asia. They love to flit amongst hedgerows and dense shrubbery. Photo of long-tailed tit

I find them very difficult to photograph. They are heard more than they are seen and then it is usually just a glimpse of their long tails disappearing. So despite the poor quality of my photographs, I’m just pleased they exist at all!Photo of long-tailed tit

They mostly eat insects, but will eat seeds during the winter. They form large flocks during the winter, but during the breeding season they tend to pair off. They are becoming more common in gardens where they make good use of feeders.Photo of long-tailed tit

They make wonderful elastic nests made of lichen, moss, spider silk and feathers.

Photo of long-tailed tit in nest

By Alan Shearman [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Despite their name they are no longer considered to be true tits, but a separate family. The name derives from 14th century Old English, mase meaning bird and tit meaning small. This is why in the USA birds in the tit or Parus family are often called titmouse (mase being corrupted into mouse). Photo of long-tailed tit

Of course it would be remiss of me to pretend that the word “tit” doesn’t have other meanings. In the UK it is a slang word for a lady’s bosom, presumably from the Old English titt, a variant of teat. The word can also be used to describe an idiot. “Stop sniggering at the back there …”

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9 thoughts on “Long-tailed Tits

  1. I have the same trouble photographing the wrens and finches in my local area, so can appreciate your own efforts at trying to capture these long-tailed tits. Some of these small birds seem to be constantly on the move, whether it be on the ground or in the trees.

  2. These are always such delightful birds to encounter. Love to come across them, especially on winter walks when they appear suddenly in determined little mobs. Super detail about the nests, much appreciated.

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