Monday Bird of the Week No.13 – The Blue Tit

When I started this blog I had intended to run a weekly ‘bird of the week’ feature. I figured I could reasonably do about 200 of those, taking me about four years. Here we are, four years later, and how many have we had?

That’s right. Twelve. Not even one a month. Not a great success rate. Still, we climb back on the horse, and I’m going to make sure there are weekly posts from now till Christmas. I say ‘horse’ but in this case it’s Blue Tit, Cyanistes caeruleus. For that is lucky number thirteen.

Blue Tit

Blue Tit

Common birds are often the easiest to dismiss, I realised that as I went through my library of images looking for photos for this piece. We see and hear Blue Tits constantly around us whether we are conscious of it or not. Yet they are actually quite an exotic combination of bright colours, blues and yellows. Another for the ‘British birds are not drab’ file.

What’s remarkable is they are even brighter than we realise. They can see ultraviolet light, unlike humans. And when we expose a blue tit to UV light, their blue crest reflects that light and glows.

Baby Blue Tit

Baby Blue Tit

This isn’t a trivial point either. Female blue tits pick males with brighter crests, and females with bright crests have been shown to be far more successful parents. This, by the way, doesn’t mean the crest has anything to do with their parenting skills. More likely it just reflects good genes and strong, healthy birds.

So the next time they are flicking around on your feeders with their slightly jerky stop motion movements, just stop and consider what is going on outside your visual spectrum.


It really is almost exactly four years now, just five days over – here is post one. This is post number 302.

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I welcome thoughts, comments and questions, so please feel free to share anything at all. Thanks, David

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