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Blue Tit

Blue Tit

At a glance

The blue tit is a familiar garden bird. With its incredible agility and ability to learn from other blue tits it is quick to exploit new food sources, and is a common visitor to bird feeders where it will display its acrobatic skills as it feeds on nuts and seeds. In winter it will often from mixed flocks with great tits.

It can become infested with feather mites which can make it look unsightly but seems to have no impact on the bird’s wellbeing as they only feed on dead feather tissue.

Key facts

Scientific name: Cyanistes caeruleus
Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding birds: 3,600,000 pairs

Wintering birds: 15 million

Conservation status: Green

Family: Tits

Length: 11.5 cm
Wingspan: 17.5 – 20 cm
Weight: 9 – 12.5 g
Typical lifespan: 3 years

What do blue tits look like?

Adult male blue tits have a yellow-green back and rump, and a blue tail. The wings are blue with a white wing-bar and white edges to the flight feathers. The underparts are pale yellow with a narrow black line in the centre of the breast, brighter yellow flanks, and a whitish belly. The undertail coverts are creamy-yellow and the underwings are yellow.

On the head, the crown is blue with a white stripe around the forehead and lores. The cheeks and ear-coverts are white and there is a bold, black eye stripe. The nape is blue with a white triangle, and the chin is black extending around the neck.

Blue tits have small, conical black bills, black eyes, and blue-grey legs and feet.

Male and females are similar but the female is slightly duller.

Juvenile blue tits are duller and paler than adults. The upperparts are slightly green, the face and underparts are dull yellow, and the head has more yellow instead of white.

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How do blue tits breed?

Blue tits breed from mid-April to late June and produce 2 broods a season. They are monogamous and breed in forests, parks, and gardens, as well as urban areas. The nest is placed in a small hole or crack in a tree or a wall, and they are common occupants of nest boxes. They will also nest in more unusual places such as post boxes.

The female builds the nest which is a cup-shaped structure made from dried grasses, leaves, bark strips, and lined with soft downy material such as wool, moss, and spiders’ webs.

Blue tits lay 7-13 smooth, glossy white eggs with reddish-purple or brown spots which are incubated by the female alone for 13-15 days. She is fed by the male while she is on the nest. Chicks are fed caterpillars by both parents and fledge at about 16-22 days after hatching. They reach sexual maturity at 1 year.

What do blue tits eat?

Blue tits eat mainly invertebrates including caterpillars, spiders, and insects. They will also supplement their diet with fruit, nuts, berries, and seeds in the autumn and winter, as well as nectar and the sap from some trees. They will readily visit bird feeders hanging upside down to feed. Outside of breeding season they forage in flocks with other tits and small birds.

Blue Tits

Where can I see blue tits?

Blue tits can be seen all year round in woodland, hedgerows, parks and gardens. They are widespread throughout the whole of the UK except some remote Scottish Islands.

What do blue tits sound like?

Timo S./xeno-canto

Did you know?

A pair of blue tits will feed up to 15,000 flies or caterpillars to their fledglings over just three weeks.

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4 Responses

  1. We have a pair nesting in our new box the building has been going on for 3 weeks. When will we know for sure she’s sitting on eggs? (Eggcited grandmother in waiting here)

  2. We have had bird boxes in our small garden and this year we have a pair using one yippee
    They are at the moment nest building going back and forth
    Wonderful watching them

  3. Are your blue tits back now? It’s March and I have a pair bobbing around in the hawthorn tree and feeding furiously on the peanut feeder, hope they nest in our box, fingers crossed ????

  4. Sweet little birds. Have many visiting my garden but not seen any for a month or so. Do you think this is unusual and should I be worried?

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