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( Originally Published 1894 )
There are several varieties of the Titmouse; the Blue Titmouse, the Great Titmouse, and the Long-tailed Titmouse are some of these. The Blue Titmouse, sometimes called a Tomtit, is a plucky little bird and resists capture with such vigour that according to the Rev. J. G. Wood it has become known to rustic boys by the name of "Billybiter." "The angry hiss of the female," says Mr. Wood, "has frequently caused an intruding hand to be rapidly withdrawn, for the sound is so exceedingly like the hiss of an irritated snake, and the little beak is so sharp, that few have the courage to proceed with their investigations. A pair of these birds built their nest in the coping of the Great Western Railway, at the Shrivenham station, not two feet from the fiery and noisy engines, which were constantly passing. The men respected the courage of the little birds, and the whole brood was hatched, and suffered to fly at liberty."
The Great Titmouse is found in various parts of Europe. According to Mrs. Bowdich it is sufficiently pliable to roll itself up in a ball, and is strong enough to crack a hazel nut. She says, "It will plant itself at the door of a hive, and tap loudly on the edge; which signal is answered by a sentinel bee who is immediately snapped up, taken to the bough of a tree where he is beaten to death, and then loses his head and thorax; the rest of him being unworthy of the appetite of his captor." The Long-tailed Titmouse is famous for the beauty, security and warmth of its nest.