Coal Tit

Coal Tit

Periparus ater

The tiny, lively little coal tit is the smallest member of the tit family. Although frequently found in parks and gardens, coal tits are quite shy and are therefore not seen lingering at bird tables as much as blue tits and great tits. Instead, they like to dart in, grab a seed from a feeder or table and take it back to the shelter of a tree or bush to eat at leisure, before coming back for more. They are also hoarders and will take food and store it to eat later.

They especially like to nest and feed in the branches of conifers. They use their long toes to grab conifer needles and cones, while they poke around with their slender bills, looking for insects.

In winter, coal tits will often join other tits in large flocks, flying over woodland and gardens, looking for food. 

Description: The coal tit can sometimes be confused with the willow and marsh tit but is easily distinguishable by the white flash on its nape, which stands out against its blue/black head. It also has a black bib, olive-coloured back and paler underparts. Both sexes are alike. It grows to around 10.75cm (4 ¼ in) and it has a high-pitched  ‘tee-choo, tee-choo’ song. 

Nesting and breeding:  The coal tit usually makes its nest in the hole of a tree, bank or wall, often quite low down. It will also make good use of a nest box. The nest is built by both sexes and usually has a moss foundation, padded with animal hair and feathers. The female lays in April or early May – usually one clutch of 6-10 brown-speckled, white eggs. These hatch after 14 days.    

Where to see them

  • In woods, especially where there are pines, firs, spruce and other conifers 
  • In gardens, darting rapidly back and forth between feeders and tree branches.  
  • What they eat

  • Seeds, especially conifer seeds, nuts 
  • Insects
  • Recommended Farbrook Farm foods: Sunflower Hearts, Peanuts, Insect Suet Pellets.
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