Identification

The blue tit can be considered as one of the most attractive resident garden birds. It is a colourful mix of blue, yellow, white and green. It is a smallish tit with a small rounded head. It has a black eye stripe and a blue cap on an otherwise white head. Its under-parts are yellow with a narrow greyish-black stripe on the centre of the belly and its wings are blue. The bill is black and the wings blue-grey. The sexes are similar in appearance, although the female is slightly paler than the male.

The great tit and the coal tit are species that are similar in appearance.

The blue tit has a repertoire of mostly fine, clear calls. Its song is "tsee-tsee-tsu-hu-hu-hu-hu" and can be heard all year round.

Size

Length 10-12cm (4-5in).

Distribution

A resident UK bird.

Status

There is currently no identified threat to the blue tit’s population status but populations often decrease considerably during harsh winters or following poor breeding seasons, often caused by cold, wet weather when caterpillars emerge (which parents feed their nestlings).

Habitat preference

A common woodland and garden bird, also seen along hedgerows and most places with trees and bushes.

Where to find them in the garden

In winter, blue tits often form flocks with other tit species. They are commonly found at peanut feeders, often hanging upside down. A garden with four or five at a bird table at any one time may be feeding 20 or more blue tits. They breed readily in garden nest boxes, although they will also nest in unusual places such as in letter boxes and pipes.

Role in the garden

Blue tits feed mainly on insects, particularly caterpillars, and seeds. They can often be seen searching for insects among plants and crevices in the garden. In spring they also feed on pollen, nectar and sap and in autumn they will eat berries. Blue tits are opportunists and will often peck through foil milk bottle tops to get at the cream at the top.