So sports personality of the year has been dubbed by some of my friends as the new Lack of Personality of the Year (not me, I promise… sort of). Andy Murray, we may love you in a way, but achieving the title of three times winner is a little excessive for somebody I have seen laugh once – even then it looked a little painful. After a fantastic afternoon ringing and surveying the birds in Sherwood Pines forest, I came to the conclusion that our birds actually have a more notable personality. With that introduction, I introduce to you the candidates for the new Tiny Bird Personality of the Year. The Blue Tit, the Long Tailed Tit, and the Gold Crest.
Nomination no. 1: The Blue Tit
The Blue tit, a sweet and busy bird surely, casting an everlasting cheer on your garden? Well… No. In fact, of all the bird species I have owned the pleasure of getting to know, he is probably the most deserving of an ASBO. If you are lucky enough to gain an opportunity to ring, any trainer will warn you to take great care in handling this angry little bird, for with their small and sharp insect shredding beak, they have a taste for trying to eat human hands as well. Such a reputation has even earnt the Eurasian Blue Tit the name of “Little Billy Biter” in the South West of England, after the biting and hissing at conservationists trying to check their nests. Their abusive behaviour towards both humans, and each other, coupled with their yobbish and cunning behaviour stealing milk from doorsteps nationwide, gives the Blue Tit a secure first nomination.
Nomination no. 2: The Long Tailed Tit
Next we have another tit, but of the long tailed nature, and certainly of a different nature to the Blue. In contrast to the little louts terrorising the countryside, the Long Tailed Tit, with her powder puffed face, cotton bud body, and dear little eyes, is a sweet little old lady who prefers a more civilised style to life. She hops around from tree to tree with the tiniest black eyes and gold eyeshadow perfectly painted on her face. On capturing these birds a ringer must take the upmost care that the correct etiquette is obeyed in not separating these lovely ladies out for lunch – what a disgrace that would be! The Long tailed tits are the only species I have met so far where we release them in pairs or groups, to save bullying by other birds if let back into scary wild world again on their own. Upon meeting this species there simply cannot be another that better resembles the little old lady living up your street, always with a biscuit to hand, and thrilled to hear about your day. You would help her cross the road of course, for the fluster of such an ordeal is just too much for the adorable little character to face. For the Adventure Time fans amongst you, think Tree Trunks and you have a Long Tailed Tit in a nutshell.
Nomination no. 3: The Gold Crest
Unlike the ASBO Blue Tit, or the frail little Long Tail, the Gold Crest is still certainly worthy of an award. For those who are not familiar with this species, if you imagine a bumble bee with feathers, you probably wouldn’t be too far off. My personal experience of the Gold Crest resembles that of a naïve and inquisitive child. He’s a small, unassuming and a forever slightly bewildered little bird, bumbling through the countryside and seemingly thrilled with every little aphid or invertebrate morsel he may find. Interestingly, Aristotle and Pliny thought quite the contrary, granting the Regulus species, including the Gold Crest and Wren, Regal status. As legend goes, the Wrens, Fire Crests and Gold crests fought amongst the birds of the animal kingdom to be crowned king, by seeing who could fly the highest. Fight they did, and Regulus won! The Gold Crest was crowned as flame bearer and ruler, hence the fiery headdress that will remain with these tiny species through for ever more. So, after victoriously fighting for Bird rule, our final nominee is the Gold Crest, a sweet and unassuming king – I bet you didn’t see that one coming.
But there can only be one winner…
So there we have it, the three nominees for the tiny bird personality of the year: the l
ittle king, the ASBO tit, and little lady Long Tail. All equally distinct and entertaining personalities, perhaps all deserved of such a prestigious title and difficult to distinguish one rightful winner. The only thing that can be concluded for sure, is that these birds have such characters that you cannot help but envisage each individual as a tiny little flying human, with a great big personality of his own.