Blue tit perched on garden trellis with flowering honeysuckle

Little orphan blue tit

The world can be dangerous for a little bird and poor little orphan Blue Tit has no family left. Can she find herself a family for winter, while avoiding Cat?...

The world can be a dangerous place...

The world can be a dangerous place for a little bird and poor little orphan Blue Tit had no family left at all.

She was all alone in the world. But she was brave and clever and she had learnt to look after herself.

Every day, she went searching for food. The garden was a good place. It had a bright green patch of lawn with colourful flowers all around. She found plenty of caterpillars and other insects to eat there.

But there was danger, too. In the corner by the old birch tree, where the bushes hid the fence, Cat hid in the shadows. He waited there to catch anything that landed in the tree. Blue Tit knew to stay well away. As she searched for caterpillars, she kept an eye on the other end of the garden.

'That's it. Fatten yourself up, little bird. You'll soon make a tasty snack!' Cat sneered from the shadows. 'You'll have to catch me first,' said Blue Tit bravely as she flew off.

But she didn't feel brave all the time. 'Autumn is coming,' she said to herself, as she rested in a tree. 'Food will be harder to find. I have no family to help me and no one to cheer me up through the long winter months. What will become of me?'

'No family? You can't live like that all winter. You won't survive,' said a long-tailed tit kindly. 'Come and stay with us, my family has joined a flock,' he said proudly. 

'A flock?' said Blue Tit.

'It's a big group of birds,' said Long-tailed Tit, 'a sort of family. We look after each other.'

'No, thank you,' said Blue Tit. 'I'm used to looking after myself. It's hard enough to find food as it is. A big gang of birds will just argue and fight over whatever they find,' she said.

'It's not like that at all,' said Long-tailed Tit. 'The elder birds know where the best trees are and how to find enough food for everyone, even on the coldest of days. In a flock, everybody learns from each other. Come and see for yourself. What have you got to lose?'

'Nothing,' she sighed. Blue Tit had never seen so many birds in one place. The flock filled the tree. There were long-tailed tits, coal tits, great tits and even blue tits like herself.

Long-tailed Tit found her a place on the outer branches near him. When the elder birds of the flock took off, the rest of the birds rose into the air with them, wheeling and diving through the woods. Blue Tit joined them.

The birds moved through the sky like one great creature in a huge game of follow-the-leader. Birds called to encourage each other. 'This way!' they called. 'Keep up!' The elder birds took them to another part of the wood.

Blue Tit watched as they pushed their beaks under the cracks in the bark to reach the grubs and spiders that lived underneath. 'What a great place this is,' said Blue Tit, as she had a go. She was pleased when she pulled out a nice juicy grub. 'It's true,' she said. 'Everybody in the flock does help everybody else. But I'm just one little bird, what I can do in return?'

'Look out for danger and warn the flock if you see anything,' said Long-tailed Tit. 'That's a good thing about flocks. The more pairs of eyes you have watching, the easier it is to spot danger.'

The weeks went by and the weather turned colder, but the flock didn't starve. The elder birds took them ever farther in their search for food. Blue Tit learnt how to search window frames for spiders and find the food that humans put out.

One day, the flock flew into a garden and settled in a tree. The birds began looking for insects to eat, or peanuts and seeds to nibble from feeders. Blue Tit had travelled a lot since she joined the flock. She had seen many different gardens, but she knew this one. She knew the bright green patch of lawn. She knew the old birch tree in the dark corner, where the bushes hid the fence. And she knew what lay in the shadows. Her heart leapt and a cold shiver ran through her as she spotted the glint of an eye and the flash of a claw.

'Cat!' she called as loudly as she could. 'Danger!'

Amid the frantic flurry of flapping wings and terrified trilling, there was a hiss and a streak of fur as Cat sprang out. But he was too late. The flock was safely in the air. All he could do was watch from the middle of the lawn and shriek angrily as the birds flew away.

'You saved everyone!' said Long-tailed Tit as they flew back to the wood.

'Well, I just shared what I knew,' said Blue Tit modestly. 'That's what you do when you're part of a flock.'

And it was true. Blue Tit was no longer alone. She really was part of the flock now.