This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
The Blue Titmouse (Parus cceruleus), Fig. 30, included in the Dentirostes section of insessorial birds and sub-family Parinae, is about 4½ in. in length. The wings and tail are blue, breast and belly sulphur-yellow, back yellowish-green, and side of the head white with a blue band running across it from the beak to the nape. In winter the blue-tits are semi-gregarious and generally distributed throughout Britain. Pairing in spring, the nest is made in holes in trees, walls, gateposts, pumps, and other singular places, of moss, hair and feathers, and the female lays from eight to fourteen eggs, white marked with reddish-brown spots.
Fig. 30. - The Blue Titmouse.
The parent pair of blue-tits have been observed to feed their nestlings with small caterpillars 470 times in one day, chiefly brought from apple and other fruit trees and bushes. Insects also enter largely into the dietary of the adult and fledged birds during the summer, and in winter feed upon seeds, eggs and pupae of insects. During severe weather blue tits are bold and active, prying almost everywhere for food, scanning buds closely for aphid and moth eggs, and we have known them clear apple trees of mussel scale. They are also very fond of meat, also sunflower seeds, picking them out of the heads before fully matured. For thistle seeds the blue-tits have some partiality and for beech-nuts. They are also very destructive to ripening pears and apples by pecking them near the stalks, while sometimes they take green peas out of the pods.
The Great Titmouse (Parus major) is about 6 in. long, with its head and throat glossy black, and a white patch under each eye, back olive or ashy green, and body underneath greenish-yellow with a black, broad stripe down its entire length. It is solitary in habits, bold, but retiring, and not so common as the blue tit. The nest is made in holes in walls, trees, decayed posts, and similar places, and the young birds are reared by the parent birds generally on small caterpillars and grubs; but we have known a whole row of green peas cleared out of the pods by the parents of a nest of young birds in the hole of a wall near. The great tits, however, do not peck pears so much as the blue-tits, feeding largely upon insects and their larvae. In winter time it feeds upon seeds as well as eggs of aphids and moths and other insects, and also hibernating pests, with pupae, and though said to be destructive to buds of fruit-bushes and trees, this is not consonant with our experience. It is particularly fond of fat meat.