Wildlife In Focus | Great Tit

David Coultham

Species In Focus: Great Tit (Parus Major)

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Video | Everything You Need To Know About The Great Tit

APPEARANCE

The Great Tit is a frequent visitor to gardens across the United Kingdom, and for this reason, is one of the most familiar of our resident birds. The size of the Great Tit makes it easily recognizable, as it is the largest member of the tit family; approximately the same size as a Robin. They are quite colorful birds with green and yellow plumage, a black head cap, and a black line running down their chests. They have white cheek patches. The Male of the species is a brighter yellow than the female, and the line down the chest of the male is slightly wider.

Diet

The Great Tit is omnivorous, eating predominantly insects during the Spring and Summer months and seeds and berries during the Autumn and Winter. They are frequent visitors to garden bird feeders, especially in the winter; often forming mixed flocks with other tits.

Did You Know? Great Tits have been observed to prey on Pipistrelle bats during the winter months if food is scarce4. Their favorite morsel reportedly being the brains of the bat!

HABITAT

Great Tits can be found across the U.K., the only exceptions being on higher ground, and treeless areas; either through human activity; or in moorland areas. The densest populations are in lowland wooded areas; particularly in England and Wales, their favored habitat being broadleaf woodlands.

Note: This map is a rough illustration of animal distribution across the UK1, whereby light green indicates established populations.

Behavior

Great Tits form nests in the cavities of trees, which is why they will also readily take to nesting boxes. They lay up to nine eggs in April/May which hatch after two weeks and are fully fledged after a further 3 weeks. They sometimes have 2 broods per year. Great Tits are monogamous breeders.

Great Tit Call:

Jack Berteau, xeno-canto.org

STATS

Wing Length271 – 79mm
Body Weight316.6 – 20.8 grams
Longevity3 Years

NATURAL PREDATORS

As with many of our woodland birds, the Sparrowhawk is their main predator, but they can also be predated upon by several mammals; including domestic cats.

Conservation Status

There are no conservation concerns with the Great Tit, their numbers are estimated to be well over 2 million birds in the British Isles. The species is susceptible to habitat loss.

U.K.
Conservation Status

Global
Conservation Status



References

  1. Population data based on BTO assessment
  2. Featherbase
  3. RSPB
  4. Estók, Péter; Zsebők, Sándor; Siemers, Björn M. Great tits search for, capture, kill and eat hibernating bats. Biology Letters. 6 (1): 59–62. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2009.0611. PMC 2817260. PMID 19740892.
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