Blue Tit - Cyanistes caeruleus

October 21, 2008


I spent a good amount of time in Germany last month while traveling. Jay and I and two other poster artists had a gallery show in Dusseldorf, and then in Hamburg we attended the Flatstock Poster Convention (part of the Reeperbahn Music Festival). This was the third year that Flatstock was happening. We went the first year, and it was our main reason for going to Europe this year. I really like Hamburg. It's a good balance of urban and laid back, and we have been fortunate enough to make some really wonderful friends.

We stayed with Bernd and Christiane. They have a lovely flat on a quiet tree lined street in northwestern Hamburg. Their company, Most of Cider, creates really amazing, gourmet hard cider. We got to know them a couple of years ago because Jay designed a label and poster for a special edition cider they released that year. Their flat has a balcony overlooking the street. In the morning we'd hang out there for a bit and drink our coffee. We quickly noticed feisty, brightly colored little birds flitting from one potted plant to the next, and then diving into the trees and ivy lined walls. I made a quick mental note of their markings and color, and when I got home I figured out that they were Cyanistes caeruleus.

Blue tits (and don't think that I am not snickering when I type that name) are passerines belonging to the family Paridae. In the States this family includes our several species of chickadees such as Black-capped and Carolina, and titmice, such at the Tufted and Bridled. Cyanistes is a common garden visiter throughout Europe and western Asia, and is for the most part a resident bird, meaning it does not migrate. A rather aggressive little puffball, it fearlessly defends its nest, even pecking at curious fingers, earning it the nickname "Little Billy Biter" in England. As far as nests, it will shack up in any hole in a tree, post, wall or nest box, even competing with bullying House sparrows. I wanted to show in the watercolor that they are also very adept avian acrobatics, often hanging upside down to get at whatever food they're trying to get at. There were quite a few nest boxes set up on balconies on Bernd's street that probably get plenty of use in the breeding season.

*chirp! painting in etsy shop.

8 comments:

  1. Sounds like you had a wonderful time in Hamburg.
    This little birdie is just beautiful!

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  2. Your posts are always so informative!
    I hope all is well.
    By the way, I believe I had a wood duck sighting yesterday. She was hanging out with a bunch of mallards!

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  3. i always seem the miss those cute little paintings when they go up. such a bummer.
    good to hear you had fun in europe

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  4. It's good to have you back and blogging!

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  5. thanks guys! and yes, hamburg was a lot of fun.

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  6. The blue tit is our favourite London back garden bird. We call them 'bandits'.

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  7. I especially like this 1
    for the the crazy acrobatics of the lil' fella, plus the juxtaposition
    of color on b&w background.
    (always makes things pop)
    fantastic!

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  8. How beautiful!
    I am very sad that I didn't get the chance to meet you in person since I am living in Hamburg and wanted to go to Flatstock Europe so bad but couldn't make it.

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