The Blue Tit

The Blue Tit
Martyn Stenning
Publisher:  Bloomsbury Publishing
2018
Hardback
Page Count:  320
ISBN Number:  9781472937384
£
50.00

As one of many tireless ringers and nest recorders monitoring the rise and fall of local Blue Tit populations across the county I was really looking forward to the publication of this monograph and certainly wasn't disappointed.

Blue Tits are one of our most common birds, yet despite being one of our most colourful they are probably overlooked by many birdwatchers. As natural cavity nesters, their readiness to use artificial nest boxes also makes them a well-studied species and this work successfully collates a vast body of published academic research, including the author's own, into a single readily accessible volume.

The focus is primarily ecological with one of the six chapters taking an in depth look at population structure, demography and mortality, whilst another draws on projects at Martyn's Sussex study site to examine the determinants of Blue Tit breeding success. For those looking to conduct their own studies on this charismatic species there is an extremely useful chapter covering the history of research on Blue Tits along with a discussion of recommended methods and applications.

Readers taking a keen interest in avian taxonomy will be pleased to see an entire chapter devoted to the current understanding of Blue Tit genetics, the origin of the species on the African continent and its subsequent spread and diversification into Europe and Asia. It's amazing how much can be learnt from a genus containing such a small number of species.

This comprehensive coverage - illustrated throughout with engaging line drawings by the ever-insightful Alan Harris - ends with a brief but enlightening foray into the place of the Blue Tit in human culture; looking specifically at anecdotes, folklore and poetry.

With newly fledged Blue Tits filling the woodland air with their squeaky contact calls, perhaps now is the time to become much better acquainted with the ecology of one of our best-loved species? You could do little better than to immerse yourself in a copy of this incredibly detailed and well-researched book.

Justin Walker