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Great Tit (Parus major)

Feeding
The Great Tit is the largest of the Tit family with the male being slightly larger and more robust in build than the female. They have a black and white head, green back, strong bill, yellow under parts and a bold black stripe from the throat down the rest of their body. On males this black strip is a lot wider than on females making them easy to distinguish. Juvenile Great Tits have pigmented plumage just slightly paler than the older birds with yellow check patches and nape which turn white after the first moult. This is unusual as most chicks that are unable to feed themselves are light brown in colour to camouflage with their nests and avoid predators.
Nesting
Great Tits are found in all types of countryside with trees, and have adapted well to gardens and parks, often living in close proximity to human dwellings. They are cavity nesters and usually choose a hole in a tree, rock face or wall and have even been recorded to nest in letter boxes and pipes! They take readily to nest boxes building nests from moss and roots and padding out the inside with animal and plant wool. They typically produce 1 or 2 broods with 8-12 whitish eggs covered with red speckles which incubate for 12-15 days. They stay close to their eggs and if disturbed they hiss protectively to ward off predators. They live in family groups for a short time after breeding and then join mixed flocks of other Tit species in the late summer and through to the following spring.
About
Great Tits are not fussy eaters and have a very wide ranging diet including insects, spiders, nuts, suet, sunflower seeds and kitchen scraps. They often appear in gardens at bird tables and hanging food feeders and these tame characters may even take food from your hands once they get to know you. Cleverly they have learned to break the foil caps that seal bottles of milk to obtain the cream floating on the top! During breeding season they prefer protein rich caterpillars for feeding their young, and a pair of Great Tits will carry almost their own weight in caterpillars and fly over 100km in one day to find them! It even coordinates its breeding around caterpillar availability and may catch over 10,000 in a season. A recent study even showed that Great Tits had helped to reduce caterpillar damage in apple orchards by 50%!
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