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Coal Tit (Parus ater)

Feeding
The Coal Tit looks like a small version of the Great Tit and is similar in size to a Blue Tit, but appears large-headed. These perky characters have black heads with white cheeks and a long white nape patch. Males also have an extra stripe of white on the back of their heads but other than this both sexes are very similar. Juveniles’ cheeks and napes are yellowish in colour which distinguishes them from older birds.
Nesting
Coal Tits love conifer woods and anywhere with fir trees but can also be found in parks and gardens. They nest in holes in trees, inside rotting tree stumps, in the ground or even in a wall. Their nests are usually low down and these cheeky birds will use the burrows of mice and rabbits or squirrel dreys if it suits them. They pad the holes out with moss, hair, plant wool, spiders’ webs and animal fur to provide a cosy base, and then gather feathers to line the nest. They typically produce one brood a year around mid April but every now and again two broods are laid. Each brood contains 7-11 whitish glossy eggs that are delicately speckled with red and incubate for 14-16 days.
About
Coal Tits are restless, acrobatic little birds that can hang upside down on trees and hover to reach food on the underside of leaves and branches. Insects, aphids, spiders, conifer seeds, nuts and suet are all popular with Coal Tits but they are especially fond of black sunflower seeds and sunflower hearts. Leaving these out for the birds should attract coal tits to your garden but they are quite shy at bird feeders, and you will often see them dash in, grab a beak full and dash off again as soon as another bird arrives to feed!
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