Guide to Britain’s tit species: how to identify and where to see

Get to know these tiny birds with our ID guide, which includes blue tits, great tits, crested tits, willow tits, long-tailed tits, marsh tits and coal tits

Blue tit bird

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

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In winter, several species may flock together to find food, making it a great time to spot these small birds.

Our guide explores Britain’s seven tit species, including the blue tit, marsh tit, coal tit, great tit, crested tit, long-tailed tit and willow tit.

Blue tit

Blue tit on branch
Blue tit, Parus caeruleus, perched on branch in garden in Co. Durham ©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 tit on branch ©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
Great tit (Parus major) in Scotland ©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 tit (Lophophanes cristatus) in Scotland ©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 Tit in winter sun on lichen covered branch ©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
Willow tit, Parus montanus, perched on a flowering hazel ©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 tit (Aegithalos caudatus) resting on a branch ©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

Great British Birdwatch

Add your sightings to this year’s Great British Birdwatch, 25–27 January. 

rspb.org.uk

Male Blackbird singing in Tree.