Identification

The great tit is the largest tit in the UK. It is green and yellow with a striking glossy black head with white cheeks. It has a moss-green back, blue-grey wings with white wing bars and a broad black stripe down the breast. The legs are blue-grey and the bill is black. The sexes are similar in appearance but the male is usually brighter, with a broader breast stripe.
The blue tit and the coal tit are similar species in appearance.

Size

The great tit is about the size of a house sparrow. Length is 13-15cm (5-6in).

The great tit has a rich repertoire of cheerful sounding songs. The most common is a distinctive two-syllable song. The great tit will often deliver its song from the top of the tallest tree in its territory.

Distribution

A resident UK species, absent only from the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland.

Status

There is currently no identified threat to the great tit’s population status. The species is generally doing well, expanding its range and increasing in abundance. It is thought that this may be due to milder winters and the availability of nest boxes and feeders in gardens.

Habitat preference

Woodlands, parks and gardens.

Where to find in the garden

Great tits are likely to be found at the bird table and seed dispensers, where they can be quite aggressive, often fighting off smaller tits. They will readily breed in close proximity to humans, in parks and gardens, and will nest in roomy nestboxes and even letterboxes.

Role in the garden

The great tit eats insects such as caterpillars, spiders, seeds, nuts and berries. They will sometimes follow coal tits to where they have hidden seeds in hanging baskets.