Guide to the Tit family

Tits are relatively petite birds with either muted plain or bright and vibrant plumage. On closer inspection, you may notice their short and stumpy legs, strong feet and small beaks.

In the UK, it is possible to observe eight different varieties, six of which are common in gardens across the country. They are highly territorial during the nesting period, and can be seen mixing in flocks. They have an amiable and social character and are persistent garden visitors.

To attract these birds to your garden, use a variety of seeds, nuts, insects and mealworm. Tits are, in particular, fond of invertebrates, so make sure you are stocked up with with either dried mealworms or live mealworms. Most Tits are all year round garden birds, and you notice an increase in visitors during the migratory period when birds visit from colder climates from October onwards.

Read about each individual bird below.

Bearded tit

Bearded tit

The Bearded tit (Panurus biarmicus) is a striking character. Males feature long black moustache-like streaks to each side of the beak. while their plumage is of a brown colour. Watch for the long tail of the Bearded tit, as this is similar in length to the Long-tailed tit.

You will find Bearded tits in mainly eastern and southern England, although there is a small, populated area in the north west of England. These sociable and noisy birds are renowned for their ‘ping’ sound.


Blue tit

Blue tit



The Blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) is one of our most recognised birds, common in most gardens across the UK. With a bright and colourful exterior of yellow, blue and green, Blue tits are extremely common in hedgerows, woodlands, park and gardens. Their diet is primarily comprised of insects, caterpillars, seeds and nuts; Blue tits are resident in the UK and can be observed in most places apart from the extremes of northern Scotland.


Coal tit

Coal tit



The Coal tit (Periparus ater) has a highly recognisable grey back with a clear black cap and white stripe on its neck. With a comparatively short and slender beak, the Coal tit is capable of feeding among conifers. You’ll notice over the winter months Coal tits will frequent garden in search of food, in particular peanuts.

They are common all over the UK and are a resident year-round garden bird.


Crested tit

Crested tit


The Crested tit (Lophophanes cristatus) may not be as colourful as other Tits in the family, but its striking crown makes it stand out from the rest. With a distinct black and white pattern on its face, the Crested tit features a muted dark green plumage.

Only observable in northern Scotland, you’re unlikely to see one in your garden. They avidly store food over the winter months. Their main diet is invertebrates.


Great tit

Great tit


The Great tit (Parus major) features a green and yellow plumage with distinctive black cap. This predominantly woodland bird is now accustomed to garden life in the UK and can be seen feeding on insects, seeds and nuts. Interestingly, the Great tit can be a somewhat aggressive bird, beating other similar-sized birds off bird tables and feeders.


Long-tailed tit

Long-tailed tit


The Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) has one distinct feature which is obvious from its name: a long tail. This particular bird is well-known for its undulating flight pattern and gregarious behaviour, enjoying company of up to 20 birds at a time.

These UK-resident birds can be seen all year round in most parts of the UK except the extreme northern parts of Scotland. Their diet is comprised mainly of insect, but they do eat seeds over the autumn and winter months.


Marsh tit

Marsh tit

The Marsh tit (Poecile palustris) is almost completely brown, with the exception of a dark bip and black cap. The Marsh tit is renowned for being incredibly difficult to identify, and is commonly misidentified as a Willow tit (see below); however, the key difference between these two birds is that the Marsh tit has a glossier cap, and if you listen closely you’ll notice the sneeze-like song, which is distinct from the Willow tit’s song.

They are around all year and can be seen in England and Wales, but not in Scotland. Their diet is primarily comprised of insects and seeds and are quite a common garden bird.




Willow tit

Willow tit



The Willow tit (Poecile montanus), as mentioned above, is very similar in appearance to the Marsh tit with the exception of a slightly duller-looking cap. They are resident all year round, but only in England and Wales and their diet is primarily insects, seeds and berries. You’ll find them in damper places such as peat bogs, marshes and gravel pits.

Due to a recent decline in population, Willow tits are classified as a Red List species.