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Science
THE LIVING WORLD
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PROGRAMME INFO
Sunday 06:35-07:00
The Living World is a gentle weekend natural history programme, presented by Lionel Kelleway, which aims to broadcast the best, most intimate encounters with British wildlife.
nhuradio@bbc.co.uk
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 26 March
PRESENTER
LIONEL KELLEWAY
Lionel Kelleway
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Sunday 26 March 2006
Long-tailed tit nest
A Long-tailed tit nest in a holly bush just outside Sheffield

The Long-tailed Basket Weaver

Lionel Kelleway joins bird behaviourist Ben Hatchwell in a remote part of Yorkshire looking for Long-tailed tits embarking on nest building.

Long-tailed tits are arguably the only insectivorous bird that stays in Britain over the winter.

They are quite common and many might see them in their gardens during the winter months, flitting from tree to tree in small bands, busily feeding where they can.

The Long-tailed tit is an amazing architect. They breed very early for British birds, building their exquisite round nest out of woven fibres collected from the ground and lined with the down from their chest.

There's a lot more to these little birds than first meets the eye. During the winter they live in social groups, the groups often made up of related individuals. They pass over valuable information to each other about food and potential breeding sites.

Come February, the group, in a rather acrimonious way, breaks up into pairs. This time of year males and females battle for their preferred partner.

The female lays many eggs and those birds that were in their winter social group, if they failed to breed, come along and help the laying female by bringing food to the chicks and even feeding the exhausted mother.

So by staying in a social group of related individuals during the winter means that they breed by proxy each year, if not themselves. And clearly, staying in a group is essential for survival - after all, all other insect feeding birds (warblers for example) migrate to Africa . 
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