The Third Ladybird Book of British Birds – #4 The Coal Tit

I’m currently reading the third volume of the Ladybird Book of British Birds and their nests from the 1950s.

The Third Ladybird Book of British Birds-7476

Today it’s the Coal Tit.

“This is a common bird in both town and country gardens, and often comes to bird tables.” So far, so true.

The State of the UK’s Birds 2017 report says that Coal Tits have increased by 16% from 1970 to 2015. That sounds good until you realise that it’s probably due to people providing food in their gardens. What’s wrong with that? It’s all the birds we’ve lost which would have been living on the land that’s being farmed for bird food.

“You can always recognise the Coal Tit by its large, white patch at the back of the neck, as you can see in the picture,” it says:

Coal Tit - Ladybird Book of British Birds


I first drew a Coal Tit in 1977 in my childhood nature notebooks, with just a picture of its head and a note that it had a white patch on its nape:

Coal Tit - 1970s Nature Notebooks - The Hall of Einar


It’s still the mark I look for whenever I see them.

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


They are also well known for one other reason which the Ladybird book didn’t mention. A pair of Coal Tits had the largest number of bird fleas ever reported from a single nest: that’s 5,754 fleas.

Coal Tit - The Hall of Einar - photograph by David Bailey (not the)


It makes me itch just thinking about it.

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