Sunday, 22 March 2009

Building Work has begun.


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.

30 comments:

Dominic Rivron said...

And a happy Mothering Sunday to you!
x

Sal said...

We have long tailed tits in our garden. I love to watch them.
They are the prettiest birds.
We are lucky here as we get a huge variety of garden/woodland birds..and also varying birds of prey, overhead.
But our real treat is the 'resident' Pheasant,who now comes knocking on the door when he wants food! We love him!
;-)

jinksy said...

Makes our house hunting seem too easy by contrast. First prize to the birds!!

Woman in a Window said...

Ingenius. It's too much to consider sometimes just how wise nature is.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love long tailed tits and they build wonderful nests, though the photo isn't showing for me just now.

Crafty Green Poet said...

oh its showing now, what a lovely nest!

Arija said...

What a wonderful construction. I am so impressed that, counting over two thousand they still don't loose count.

Jenn Jilks said...

That is amazing! Around here the animals have already given birth. The season is so short that the raccoons and bears, for example, are nursing babies.

The birds have a bit more time, the robins have two hatchings. I've seen the crows fly by with things in their beaks. Things are starting to stir!
Great photo!

Leenie said...

Creatures continue to amaze. I am also amazed at the researchers who counted all the feathers.

Connie said...

Thank you for your daily wanderings and thoughts. I feel like I am visiting the country for awhile each day.

Mistlethrush said...

I think it's amazing what can be achieved with beak and feet. It makes me feel very humble.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks Dom - look forward to your coming round later.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Sal - I think l.t.t.s are my favourites amongst the small birds - although we get a lot of goldfinches and they are lovely too. We have a pair of buzzard who fly over regularly and a sparrow hawk who occasionally gets one of our small birds. As for pheasants- we get plenty of those as we are surrounded by fields - they can get quite tame, can't they?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Good job we don't have to look for a suitable tree Jinksy.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks to you all - you all seem to agree that the nest is fantastic and that long tailed tits are clever little birds.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Hi Conie - thanks for visiting - I tried to return the call but couldn't get on to your post.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

I reckon most of nature is cleverer than what we are!!!

Hope you have enjoyed your day.

Reader Wil said...

We have three kind of tits in our garden: great tit, bluetit and long-tailed tit. The last one always comes in great numbers.Thank you for this informative post! Have a great week.

Dave King said...

Absolutely enthralling. Thank you so much for posting it.

Heather said...

What a beautiful nest, and how incredible that such a tiny creature could construct something so functional. Even given five months I couldn't equal that. How dare we use the phrase 'bird brain' when we want to suggest someone is stupid!

Raph G. Neckmann said...

What patience they have! And I am amazed about the exactness of the number of feathers!

Gwen Buchanan said...

What am amazing little house... it reminds me of a hobbit house ... We have so much to relearn from the animal world... afterall they survive by their wits... I have always thought we should pay close attention to our intuition and this does prove it... Thanks..
I have never seen a nest like this before...

Summer Gypsy said...

How interesting! You are so right....Birds are very clever. That house is just so elaborate. It's warm and strong for the babies. What a marvel! I loved this post.
Happy Mother's Day to you!
:)Marilyn

Hildred and Charles said...

With all our technology and cleverness how much of life remains a wonder to us

kimber the wolfgrrrl said...

Clever birds!

Leilani Lee said...

It is so interesting to see posts about birds that we don't have in the US and thus, I know nothing about. If memory serves, there is a town in one state (Ohio) that celebrates the return of the vultures....

Dragonstar said...

You mean long-tailed tits ever keep still long enough to build nests! Wonderful to be able to take a photo like this one.

Janice Thomson said...

What a neat nest and fascinatingly constructed. We don't have tits here so great to see this shot of their nest.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

What marvelous architects they are! Just amazing!

Robyn said...

Nature never fails to amaze me. I love nests held together with spiders web. We have a few species here that do the same, but the long tailed tit's nest is extraordinary.