Great Tit

Great Tit

Key facts

Scientific name: Parus major

Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding birds: 2,500,000 territories 

Conservation status: Green

Family: Tits

Length: 13 – 15 cm

Wingspan: 23 – 26 cm

Weight: 14 – 22 g

Description

Adult male great tits have yellowy-green mantles, with olive-green upper back and scapulars. The lower back and uppertail coverts are pale grey and they have green rings on their rump. The tail is blue-grey with black edges and white tips on the outer rectrices.

The upperwing is blue-grey with a conspicuous white wing-bar. The underparts are yellow with a black vertical stripe down the belly.

They have black heads with white cheeks and ear coverts, and the chin and throat are black. They have black, pointed bills, dark brown eyes, and blue-grey legs and feet.

Female great tits are similar to the male but with duller colouring and a thinner belly stripe.

Juveniles are duller still with some brown areas on their heads and a narrow black stripe on their underparts.

Breeding

Great tits nests in the hollows of trees, crevices in the wall, burrows, as well as nest boxes. Female great tits build the nest from moss, wool, hair, and feathers.

Great tits lay 6-8 white eggs with reddish spots. The female incubates alone for 13-16 days while the male feeds her at the nest. Chicks are altricial opening their eyes only about 9 days after hatching. They fledge at 18-24 days but both parents continue to feed them for a further 15-25 days.

Great tits produce two broods a season.

Feeding

In the spring and summer great tits eat invertebrates. In the autumn and winter they will supplement their diet with seeds and fruit and food left out in gardens.

Great Tit

Where to see them

Great tits can be found across the UK except in the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland. They can be found in woodland, parks, and gardens. 

Listen

Olivier SWIFT/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Great tits have high levels of intelligence and are known to solve problems through insights, rather than trial and error. In 2018 a study found that they were had as much impulse control as chimpanzees. 

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