Can you identify this bird?

Can anybody tell me what the little bird might be? It arrived in my garden about 2nd week of December and has been feeding constantly at the seeds, dried mealworms and suet feeders each day since.

It's slightly smaller than the blue tits, and has the appearance of a miniature vulture, where its feathers are missing on its tiny little head, neck and chest. As you can see, its feathers are very wispy and it looks very scruffy.  When perching, it tends to 'flutter' its wings, like a baby bird waiting for food from an adult. When I first saw it I thought it must be ill, but it has been here for 2 months now and remains very active.

It isn't as nervous as the other birds, and settles down in the feeder to have a jolly good meal, rather than dashing back and forth.

  • Hi Bertie

    Poor little thing, It looks like a Blue Tit with either a feather abnormality or a bad case of feather mites, if it is mites and it can survive with your help through the cold weather the feathers should grow back.

    My Flickr photos

  • Poor little soul, it makes you want to wrap it up in a woolly jumper. Goodness knows how it's surviving the cold weather. Fingers crossed for it, it seems determined to live.

    Best wishes

    Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France

  • Aww poor little thing, it does look like a Blue Tit, it’s a good sign that he’s eating, I hope he gets his feathers back soon! 

  • In reply to Noisette:

    Poor little soul, it makes you want to wrap it up in a woolly jumpe

    Exactly what I thought H as I noticed these pics just before I went to sleep ... stuff of nightmares alright ... do hope it can survive wthout suffering!


     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • The poor thing has also got a beak deformity. Not that uncommon amongst Blue Tits but makes it even more of a struggle to survive.



    My Flickr Photostream 

  • Hooray! Little scruffy is back feeding after an absence of a few days, when I had feared the worst. He/she has started crossing its beak to help with feeding. Presumably it's abnormal beak will continue to grow and become more and more of a problem unfortunately. Maybe because of the milder weather, and therefore feeding non stop isn't quite so important now, it isn't spending quite so much time at the feeders and also seems to be more nervous than previously when we are standing at the window with a camera. I hope to get more photos soon to see if its feathers are starting to grow.

  • In reply to Bertie24:



     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • In reply to WendyBartter:

    Hi Bertie, sorry to see you have a Blue Tit with bad case of feather balding probably due to mites and added complication of a bill deformity; hopefully in time, if it can manage to eat enough, it will recover although the bill will always be a problem; even if it was trimmed it would continue to grow that way, birds are clever at adapting to their disabilities and overcoming some of the problems. We've also had similar cases although not quite so bad and found that the Blue Tit could pick up and eat suet pellets and live mealworms easier than seed with the cross-over bill. 3 years later I was still seeing the same Blue Tit with crossed over mandibles so it survived with ready food we provided to help it. Live mealworms can be expensive but suet pellets a little more reasonably priced; you can also try making home made raw pastry by using plain flour/water (no salt added) and lard  (half fat to flour ratio) to which you can add some seed or suet pellets, kibbled peanuts - bind with just enough water so the pastry doesn't get sticky to handle and the blue tit will find this also easier to eat. You can place the pastry into a fat ball feeder or suet cake feeder and many other birds also like it, especially long tailed tits if you get them; we've even had Nuthatches enjoying the pastry. You can also pinch bits off the pastry to place on shrubs/twigs, etc. Just ideas which may help this Blue Tit to keep up its energy levels a little easier. Good luck and hope it keeps returning to enjoy those treats you put out for it.


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • In reply to HAZY:

    Poor little thing, It does look a sorry state, at least he is still coming back and attempting to eat. Fingers crossed that he will be okay.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • In reply to Catlady:

    Thank you Hazel. It looks as if I'm going to be busy in the kitchen!