Coal Tit

Coal Tit

Key facts

Scientific name: Periparus ater
Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding birds: 680,000 territories

Conservation status: Green

Family: Tits

Length: 11 – 12 cm
Wingspan: 17 – 21 cm
Weight: 8 – 10 g

Description

Coal tits have greenish-grey upperparts with white tips the wing coverts which appear as two white wing bars. The upper breast is white while the rest of the underparts are pale buff to rufous, and the tail is grey.

On the head the crown, neck, and throat are glossy black and the lores and cheeks are white. There is a distinctive long white patch on the nape. The bill is black, the eyes are dark brown, and the legs and feet are dark grey. Male and female coal tits are similar.

Juveniles resemble adults but are browner on the upperparts and have a yellow wash on the cheeks, nape patch, underparts, and wing bars.

Breeding

Coal tits are monogamous and begin breeding in mid-April. They produce 1 or 2 broods a season. They nest in holes in trees, crevices in walls, or mice and rabbit burrows. They will also use the old magpie nests, squirrel dreys, and occasionally nest boxes. The nest is built by the female from moss, grass, and spider’s webs, and lined with feathers and hair.

Coal tits lay 7-12 glossy white eggs with reddish speckles. The eggs are incubated for 14-16 days by the female alone. The male feeds her while she is on the nest. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge at 16-19 days.

Feeding

Coal tits eat insects, beech mast, seeds, and nuts. They will also visit gardens in search of food, in particular sunflower seeds.

Coal Tit

Where to see them

Coal tits can be seen across the UK in woodland, parks, and gardens.

Listen

W. Agster/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Coal tits have low fat reserves compared to other tits, so they store food in case of future shortages.

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