I make no apology for putting this photograph of a long-tailed tit's nest on to my blog again. I took the photo a couple of years ago when a friend spotted the nest at the side of the lane as we were driving past. Fortuitously yesterday's Birdwatch column in The Yorkshire Post had an article about how the long-tailed tit builds its nest. As it takes five weeks to construct, they have started already, having chosen a thicket of brambles or a gorse bush for preference. So I was lucky to get this photograph of one in a tree where it could be seen once the leaves had fallen.
The nest is mainly built of moss and small leaves and is built from the base up. It is fastened together with silk which they steal from spiders' cocoons and the furry silk which spiders spin round their eggs. When all these ingredients meld together the effect is rather like that of Velcro!
For camouflage the tit decorates the outside of the construction with moss or lichen and then flecks it with bits of the cocoon silk, so that it blends in.
Inside the nest is lined with up to 2,600 feathers - no single feather longer than four centimetres. This is how they regulate the inside temperature. Amazingly, researchers added some feathers to a nest under construction and found that the tits incorporated these into the lining and brought less themselves to finish it.
Thinking of this fantastic construction and of my post yesterday talking about swallows returning from Africa to the site of their birth in the UK - even to the same nest -all I can say is that we certainly don't have the monopoly of cleverness in this fantastic world of ours.
Happy Mothering Sunday to all the mums out there.