Adorable cotton ball birds

Adorable cotton ball birds

These cute little birdies look just like flying cotton balls! Once you see these poofy birds fly past, you better have your camera ready. Not only are these birds very photogenic (I mean, look at those images), they also have an adorable call and can brighten anyone’s day.

Photo credits: Thez

Although I’m a big fan of their ‘street name’ = cotton ball birds, these little guys are formally known to be part of the Long-tailed tit species. These fluffballs can be found throughout Europe and the Palearctic region, but the subspecies europeaus in particular likes to appear in droves on Hokkaido. There they are called Shima Enaga, and just look at them:

Where do our flying cotton ball birds live?

The long-tailed tit’s habitat is just as diverse as the countries they appear in. They either choose to stay in woodlands or grasslands near rivers, but also farmland and even parks and gardens. So yes, there’s a chance to get these fluffballs in your own backyard! They aren’t too shy and are actually quite curious creatures. So if you’re patient, they might come to check you out and pose for a few pictures.

Long-tailed tit appearance

Our little birds can be found in all sorts of colors, but the most well-known are black and white. The white poofyness is in the front and the black stripes are on the back and tail. If you have a difficult time finding the birds in the snow, you might recognize their call. This is what it sounds like:

Family matters

They know when they miss their family. Their calls become louder when they notice they get farther away from their group or family. The way their family functions is quite interesting as well. They actually have babysitters in the group to take care of the smaller ones while their parents are breeding. It’s like a bird daycare where the older ones take care of the younger ones.

The flying cotton ball birds make their nests out of different soft materials. You can think of feathers and moss, as well as spider egg cocoons which turn into flexible sacks. Their breeding season is from July to February. After the kids are born, the birds usually look for the company of up to 15 other cotton ball birds. This group can be made up of family members (the babysitters), or just other friendly birds of their species.

Least-concern species

The part of the world where they appear is quite large and they are classified as a ‘least-concern species’. This basically means the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) does not focus on actively conserving the species because there’s so many of them. However, you might want to visit your local or national bird-association to see if they’ve actually spotted this species before you give your garden a makeover.

Long-tailed tit’s in your garden

You actually have a good chance of getting the long-tailed tits in your garden with a few basic items. These flying cotton ball birds love to eat smaller seeds, breadcrumbs and peanut fragments. You can either add these to a feeder or sprinkle through your garden to let them find it. I also read about grated cheese as an option? Although I’m not sure if that will attract the entire animal population from your surrounding area as well.

Do you like to create a place for the long-tailed tit’s to nest? Then you need to have (or create) thick scrubs for them to stay in so they can be comfortable. Keep in mind that they need to feel very safe for them to stay somewhere. So if you have cats in the area you might get disappointed.



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