How to support Longtailed Tits in your Garden - Tips & Feeding Guides

Posted by Garden Crowd on

Last year we had a bunch of Long Tailed Tits living in & around our garden. They came early in the year, raised their young, flitted about like mad things & then they disappeared. We were gutted. They are so beautiful & entertaining & not scared of us at all. They would hang around while were were out gardening or sitting in the sun. Their babies were the most adorable thing ever & we loved watching them grow up.

Long tails will eat from a feeder, make sure to provide high energy food for them

A couple of weeks ago a pair appeared in our garden & they seem to be staying. Last week they were joined by another pair & now we get to watch them living their fast paced lives again. We are overjoyed. Long tails often live in small flocks so that they can snuggle together at night to keep warm so we may get even more of them. If you want to attract some to your garden there’s a few things you can do.

The Long Tailed Tit is a stunning bird with beautiful colours of black, white & pink. They are geniuses of engineering, creating elaborate thermo-regulated nests for their young. The nest is enclosed with a small entrance hole near the top. They make it from moss, hair & feathers & secure it to twigs & branches with cobwebs. The design allows them to regulate the temperature by removing or adding more feathers which line the inside. It also stretches as the fledglings grow — genius!

As a kid I used to go birdwatching with my dad. He loved to try to find nests & in winter we would scramble around in the hedgerows & through the woods looking at where birds had nested the previous year. I loved doing that & there is a moment I remember most clearly, we found a long tailed tit nest. It was in a dense hawthorn bush & I was entranced that a tiny bird could make something so perfect. It was a mottled green colour & looked quite delicate in comparison to most nests, probably because it is not made from twigs. After seeing that I really wanted to see the birds but they were not around. The following summer though there were lots of them in that woodland. They are distinctive in the undulating way they fly & their long tails — some people call them flying teaspoons.

These days there are not as many long tails in that area as the hedgerows were chopped down. They don’t have as many places to build their stunning nests. Long tails like to nest in thick bushes such as hawthorn or brambles. They also need lots of insects to eat which they forage in the high branches of trees such as oak & ash.

Habitats are disappearing for most birds so there are some important things we can do to help them & compensate for what they have lost. To help Long tailed tits you should provide food they like & nest building materials. It will also help if you have some dense bushes or brambles where they can build their homes.

What do Long Tailed Tits eat?

In the wild they eat insects & larvae. These provide protein & fat. You should leave high energy food out for them with suet pellets as their beaks are too small for fat balls. You could also smear fat such as lard on tree branches or make a fat mix yourself with some kibbled peanuts & mealworms. They do also like peanut butter so you could put some on an apple core & hang it up for them.

One of our new residents - these long tails seem to be quite plump & surviving the frosty mornings with our high energy bird food

What do they need to build their nests?

Long tails use different materials to other birds & need insulation. They are very small & have to spend most of their day feeding in order to survive cold nights in the winter. They line their nests with feathers & wool. We have put some wool into a fat feeder & they are loving it. Other birds will use this too as they start to nest but the long tails are off & running & already starting their elaborate little homes.

Long Tails need insulation so you can leave some wool out for them

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