Guide to tit species in the UK: how to identify and where to see

Learn more about the different types of tit species in Britain and how to tell them apart with our ID guide, which includes blue tits, great tits, crested tits, willow tits, long-tailed tits, marsh tits and coal tits

Bird in spring

There are seven different types of tit species in Britain, most of which are familiar visitors to parks, gardens and birdfeeders, though a few are rarer.

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Tits are resident to the UK, meaning they can be seen all year round. In winter, several species may flock together to find food, making it a great time to spot these small birds, but they can also be seen in good numbers in spring, summer and autumn.

Find out more about the song of each tit species, their characteristics and behaviour with our guide to Britain’s seven tit species, including the blue tit, marsh tit, coal tit, great tit, crested tit, long-tailed tit and willow tit.

Birds on birdfeeder
Different tit species group together in winter in search of food/Credit: Getty

What are tits?

Tits are small birds often seen in the countryside and in our gardens. Most species of tit are colourful with defined patterns and tails, and some even have crests. Tits can singularly but they also group together in small flocks, especially in winter.


How many types of tit are there in Britain?

Depending on where you look, the number tit species in the UK varies from six to eight – our guide looks at seven species.


Which types of tit visit my garden?

Generally speaking, there are four types of tit that frequently visit gardens in the UK. These include the great tit, blue tit, coal tit and long-tailed tit.

Bird on a birdfeeder
Long-tailed tits can sometimes be seen visiting our gardens/Credit: Getty

Different types of tit

Blue tit

Blue tit on branch
Blue tit, Parus caeruleus, perched on branch in garden in Co. Durham/Credit: RSPB Images

Common and widespread, with blue cap and wing, green shoulders and a yellow breast. Bold and agile, it is an acrobat on the feeder. Hear its trilling call on sunny days in January. www.rspb.org.uk/blue-tit 


Coal tit

Coal tit
Coal tits weight 8-10g/Credit: Getty

The smallest of the tits, with a white spot on the back of its neck. A shy species, it prefers conifers but will use garden nestboxes and make swift forays to the feeders. www.rspb.org.uk/coal-tit 


Great tit

Great tit (Parus major) perched on wooden garden fence in the snow in winter. (Photo by: Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The great tit is the largest UK tit/Credit: Getty

The largest of the tits has a black vertical stripe down its yellow belly. A garden regular, it has a wide array of songs but its “tea-cher, tea-cher, tea-cher” call signals spring is coming. www.rspb.org.uk/great-tit


Crested tit

Crested tit
Crested tits are resident to the ancient Caledonian pine forests of Scotland/Credit: Getty

A beautiful bird with sharply erect crest and white cheeks, confined to old pine forest in the Highlands. It forages among pine needles for insects and rarely visits bird tables. www.rspb.org.uk/crested-tit


Marsh tit

Marsh Tit
Marsh tis eat insects and seeds/Credit: Getty

Poorly named as usually found in deciduous woodland or at the birdfeeder. Widespread but growing scarce, it has a black cap and pink-buff colouring. Its call is like a tiny sneeze: “pitchou”! www.rspb.org.uk/marsh-tit


Willow tit

Willow tit, Parus montanus
The willow tit is a Red List species/Credit: Getty

Similar to the marsh tit but much rarer, with a wider head. Its song is very different, with warbling, high-pitched notes. It likes wet woodlands where it excavates its own nestholes. www.rspb.org.uk/willow-tit


Long-tailed tit

Long tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
Long tailed tits are most at home among woods and hedgerows/Credit: Getty
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Foraging flocks resemble Christmas decorations. Long tails and high-pitched peeping and spluttering “tsirrup” calls. Found in deciduous woods and, increasingly, gardens. www.rspb.org.uk/long-tailed-tit