To think that a wild bird will allow you to touch it is expecting too much. It is sometimes necessary to catch a blue tit or a robin that has entered a room or a greenhouse and cannot find its way out. The capture is scarcely ever effected without a great deal of chasing and wild flutterings. On several occasions I have had to get hold of a blue tit under these circumstances, and when the tiny thing is taken in ones hand its heart-beats can be distinctly felt. Yet, even so, I have had blue tits peck fearlessly at my fingers while held in the closed hand with only tiieir head free.
The most notable instance of a wild bird allowing me to touch it happened near Lossiemouth. I was walking at the edge of a wood and suddenly came upon a hen partridge squatting on the footpath. It was within eighteen inches of my feet, and, bending forward, I spoke to the bird gently and finally stroked the beautiful plumage of its back with my right hand. Stroking a Partridge
TT must have been a severe ordeal for a bird so wild as a partridge, but, so great was the power of mother love in the handsome creature, that it suffered me to stroke its back twice before the limit of its endurance was reached and it rose and flew off a little way, revealing two newly-hatched young ones which it had been covering. I withdrew at once, and the hen bird called her chicks, which immediately ran to their mother. A moment later I detected the nest and eleven more chicles under a gorse bush not two yards away, with the cock bird guarding them. Quietly stepping backwards, I had the satisfaction of seeing the two parent birds collect their family and walk off. Feeding Upside Down
To return to the blue tits. I think that the best time to put up a nesting-box is in the winter, so that the birds will become familiar with it before the nesting season in the spring. If the box is nailed up within sight of the place where suet is hung up for the tits during the winter, there is every likelihood that they will select it as a nesting site when the time comes.
The most interesting thing about the blue tits in the garden is the way they hang on to food that is dangling from a piece of string, and feed in an upside-down position while clinging by their claws. These birds will come to food placed only a yard or two from a window, so that their lively and amusing antics can be watched at close quarters.
The comparative tameness and acrobatic behaviour of the different kinds of tits – particularly the great tit and the blue tit – have made these birds favourites of those who have a taste for nature photography.
The most suitable food for blue tits in winter and spring is beef suet. I generally get a good solid piece about three inches square and tie it securely to one end of a thick piece of string about three feet long. The other end of the string I attach to the edge of the roof of the verandah or a cross-piece of wood fixed to a pole, choosing a position where anyone in the sitting-room can obtain an unobstructed view of the birds through the window.