Blue tit juvenile perched on wicker basket pot holder in garden

The blue tit and the caterpillar

It is spring and the oak moth and blue tits are thinking of starting families. As the eggs hatch, will Caterpillar become a moth, or will she end up as food?...

It was spring and new oak leaves were beginning to burst from their buds....

'New leaves,' said Oak Moth. 'It's time to lay my eggs. That way my caterpillars will hatch in time to eat leaves while they are still fresh and tender.'

But Blue Tit had seen the new leaves, too.

'At last,' she said. 'It's time to lay my eggs! That way my brood will hatch in time to eat the fat plump caterpillars that eat the new leaves.'

And that was the way it was.

The moth laid her eggs inside budding leaves in the oak tree. Then she sewed each leaf shut with silken threads.

The blue tit laid her eggs in a little hole in a tree.

When the moth eggs hatched, the caterpillars munched their way out through the leaves.

One little caterpillar looked about and all she could see was lots of juicy, tender new leaves to eat. She couldn't believe her eyes.

'Oak leaves! My favourite!' she sighed. And she started to eat. And eat. And eat.

And so too did her relations all over the tree.

When the blue tit eggs hatched, eight small, fluffy, grey chicks opened their beaks, wanting to be fed.

'Aw, sweet,' said daddy blue tit and he flew off. He came back carrying plump caterpillars in his beak.

The chicks started to eat. And eat. And eat.

Day after day, he flew backwards and forwards, bringing them plump, fat caterpillars to gobble up.

Day after day, caterpillar munched through the leaves. She didn't even notice her relations vanishing one by one.

After a week, the blue tit chicks had grown their first feathers, so mummy could go out and help daddy feed them.

They brought fresh caterpillars to be gobbled up, day in, day out.

'More! More! More' their children cried.

Their parents had to bring a caterpillar every few minutes. It was very tiring work.

Meanwhile, Caterpillar munched through another leaf.  They weren't as tender as they used to be. They were older, harder and tougher now. She was quite going off them, she decided.

One day, daddy blue tit landed wearily on a branch, looking for more caterpillars.

Caterpillar glanced about. There was no escape.

'You don't want me,' she said in a small voice. 'What will your children do when all us caterpillars have been eaten?'

Why, they'll have to leave the nest and find their own food!' said Blue Tit. He blinked. He hadn't thought of that.

'I could rest my wings and put my feet up,' he sighed in a daydream.

Caterpillar saw her chance and jumped from the branch. And as she jumped, she spun a silken thread. She dropped on her silken rope. A second later, she was safe, far out of sight below.

When daddy Blue Tit stopped daydreaming he had to return to the nest empty-beaked.

'Where's our dinner?' his children cried.

'There isn't any. The caterpillars have all gone!' he snapped. 'And it's time you were gone as well!'

'He's right,' mother Blue Tit said. 'You have to find your own food now.'

It was true. They each needed too much food now that there wasn't enough to share. So they all left the nest.

'Ah, peace and quiet at last,' said daddy Blue Tit. 'And if I never see another caterpillar again, I won't mind one bit!'

And he didn't, because caterpillar used her silken thread, spun herself a cocoon and turned into a moth.