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We have a birds nest in the garden constructed from moss and lined soley with black down feathers, with an entry hole at the top near to the branch. What is it?

Sent in by: Ken Carter from North Lincolnshire

The nest you describe belongs to a long-tailed tit. Such a privilege to have them nesting in your garden, and such a delight to be able to see a nest close-up! 

Long-tailed tit nests must be the cosiest nests made by any bird. They are made of moss, woven together with cobwebs and hair, and camouflaged on the outside with lichen. The lining is always small feathers - anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 of them! It can take the pair up to a month to complete their masterpiece. 

One special thing about these nests is that they stretch to accommodate the growing brood, and so always stay snug and just the right size even when there are ten fully grown young and a parent inside. There is no spare room inside the nest, as you can imagine, so what do they do with their long tails? When the female sits in the nest incubating the eggs or brooding small young, her tail is bent over by the side of her body. She spends such a long time couped up like this that her tail becomes temporarily bent even when she is having a stretch outside. So when you see a long-tailed tit with a bent tail, you can be sure that it is a nesting female. 

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