Who's been at the milk?

by Harry Miller April 04, 2016

This time it wasn't the cat who got the cream. 

Bluetit on a twig stylised painting

With its hyperactive and punchy nature, and a very striking bright blue crew cut, I like to think of the Blue Tit as being the punk of the songbirds.  This tiny creature has bags of energy, and they'll tirelessly flutter around their habitat searching for insects.  Being one of the most agile of songbirds, you will often see them dangling upside-down on the spindliest of twigs whilst searching for morsels.

In the winter you'll get small mobs of them as families join forces with other tit species such as great tits and long tailed tits, and as the gang goes on their food foraging tour around the neighbourhood, they lighten the wintery mood with colour and chirpy song; and don't be sad after they've raided your garden and bolted off to the next, they'll be back, as blue tits like to stay within 2km from their birthplace.

In the late 1920's blue tits made the headlines for some very unusual behaviour.  It all started at the turn of the 20th century when milk was first delivered to our doorsteps.  Back then the milk bottles wouldn't be sealed, and it was only the robin and the blue tit who learnt that they they could capitalise on this by siphoning the cream which had risen to the top of the bottles.  After the First World War they introduced sealed bottles - damn!  This was enough to thwart a dairy loving robin, but the blue tit persevered, and the first of them to reclaim their milk moustache were the tits of Southampton.  By 1935 the London tits were at it, and by the time Elvis was singing about his blue suede shoes, the entire British blue tit population were having cream for breakfast.

Now, as previously mentioned, considering that this bird likes to stay very local, it's a wonder how this valuable knowledge spread from the New Forest to the Highlands.  Some like to suggest that it adds substance to the theory of 'collective consciousness', but knowing that tits are sociable creatures - unlike the robin - it's very possible that this skill was gradually shared from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.  If you'll forgive me for saying, it's as if the milk was kind of going full circle.

Daniel's Blue Tit design is available as a greetings card, along with many other songbirds. 

Shop the full DM Bird Collection.




Harry Miller
Harry Miller

Author



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in News / Work in progress / Mythology

Tiger in Buckinghamsire!

by Daniel Mackie June 14, 2020

This is Mack's Tiger. It was part of a school project based on my work and a theme of animals in the natural habitat.  Mack created this on Procreate on his mums iPad

Read More

Owls at Night

by Harry Miller April 30, 2020

Owl Greeting Card The DM Collection

With the exception of artists, inventors, and teenagers - we humans are diurnal daytime creatures on the whole, and although it’s one thing to be out and about during the night in a street lit urban environment, it’s a very different scenario if you find yourself in, say… oh, I don’t know, a forest per se.  Where, if you’re lucky, you may hear the unmistakable cry or hoot of an Owl: natures very own nocturne, a stark reminder of the unknown peril of night, and a creature that has featured heavily in myth and folklore throughout the ages.

Read More

A Polar Bear's Tail

by Harry Miller April 22, 2020

Polar bear swimming in the ocean illustration The Dm Collection
Weighing up to as much as 800 kg - that’s roughly the same as 10 men - a male boar Polar Bear is the largest *hypercarnivorous land mammal on the planet.  In fact the largest specimen ever recorded was an Alaskan bear back in 1960, which weighed in at an astonishing 1,002 kg, and had a length of just over 11ft.  Now that’s a big bear!   

Read More