Identification

The long-tailed tit is easily recognisable with its distinctive colouring, a tail that is longer than its body and its undulating flight. It is a small, rounded tit. Its head and under-parts are whiteish and its flanks and belly are light reddish-brown or pink. It has a black back and a narrow tail black with white edges. It has red eye rings, a very small black bill and black-brown legs. Both sexes are similar in appearance.

Long-tailed tits often form noisy, excitable groups and can be seen clinging upside down to thin twigs.

Constantly moving parties of long-tailed tits utter calls to each other regularly. Their soft, twittering song is seldom heard.

Size

Length 13-15cm (5-6in), of which the tail is 7-9cm (2 ½-3 1/2in)

Distribution

A UK resident, found across the UK except for the north and west of Scotland.

Status

There is currently no identified threat to the long-tailed tit’s population status. They appear to be doing well at present, possibly due to recent milder winters and their increased use of garden habitats.

Habitat preference

Woods, farmland hedgerows, scrubland, parks and gardens.

Where to find them in the garden

In winter long-tailed tits form flocks with other tit species, which often visit gardens in the search for food.

Role in the garden

Long-tailed tits feed mainly on insects, larvae and spiders and on seeds in autumn and winter. They are increasingly being seen feeding from peanut feeders and suet cake in gardens.