The First Ladybird Book of British Birds – #5 The Long-tailed Tit

Turning to the next page in this 1950s Ladybird book shows the Long-tailed Tit:

The Long-Tailed Tit - Ladybird Book of British Birds - The Hall of Einar

I prefer to call them Long-Tailed Bushtits because they are not closely related to the other tits.

Forty years ago I saw some and noted it down in my nature notebooks:

Long Tailed Tit - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

“Very small bodied bird with remarkably long tail”, I wrote.

I obviously agreed with this Ladybird book:

It is a very small bird, but looks bigger than it is, because its tail is longer than its body.

Here’s my forty year old pencil sketch from my nature notebooks:

Long Tailed Tit - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It was quite accurate considering how young I was:

Long-Tailed Bushtits - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I’ve not seen a nest of the Long-tailed Tit for forty years. It was the most extraordinary thing: built in a holly bush and made from tiny white and pale pink petals from tree blossom, stuck together with spiders’ webs. It was completely stuffed full of feathers like a squashy and slightly overfilled pillow.

The nest is the most marvellous of all the nests of British birds. It is shaped like a bottle and made of moss and wool, hair and cobwebs, and is lined with hundreds and hundreds of feathers.

I remember walking round the whole afternoon after seeing the nest wondering where two tiny birds had managed to find all those feathers; realising that I couldn’t see any feathers at all in the countryside; and then wondering if that was because the Long-Tailed Tits had found them all.

Long-Tailed Bushtits - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

If a pair are successful at breeding, here’s what comes out of their nest::

Long-Tailed Bushtit - Tudeley Woods - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

If that isn’t the closest thing to a fluffy lollipop on a stick I don’t know what is.

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