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Crested Tit Parus 207012 Nigel Blake (rspb-images.com)24/02/2009

It’s cocky, has a distinctive, trilling call and breeds in only a few parts of the Highlands. The crested tit is one of the species that most birders would like to see in its home forests. Go to pinewoods on the north-west rim of the Cairngorms to up your crestie-viewing chances.

What to look for

All members of the tit family in Scotland have a certain perkiness, but the crestie - with its upswept quiff of head feathers - is arguably the most energetic of all. Listen for a churring call and look in pine trees for its crested silhouette.

Interesting facts

The majority of cresties choose to nest in old pine stumps, some in standing dead pines and only a handful in living trees. So dead wood in an old forest is a huge asset to them (as it is to a host of beetle larvae and other invertebrates.

When and where to see

Cresties don’t move far, year-round, from their home territory. They breed early in the year, so you can look for broods on the wing from late May onwards. Some come to bird tables.

Hotspots

Pine forests between Grantown-on-Spey and Kingussie such as Rothiemurchus and Glenmore. There are small numbers in Culbin Forest near Nairn, and in Glen Affric, west of Loch Ness.

For more information see the RSPB's crested tit page.