Bird Of The Week: Great Tit

The great tit is the largest of all the tit family in the UK and is one of the earliest to nest in Spring.

Published 19 Mar 2018, 16:53 GMT
The great tit is actually a woodland bird that has successfully adapted to man-made habitats and ...
The great tit is actually a woodland bird that has successfully adapted to man-made habitats and is a frequent visitor to gardens.
Photograph by Ray Kennedy (RSPB-images.com)

Of the six tit species that breed in the UK, the great tit is the largest. It has similar plumage to a blue tit but with a distinctive black head and white cheeks. The chest is bright yellow with a black stripe running down from the throat. Males and females are similar but the stripe in males is wide and sometimes extends down to the legs.

Great tits are extremely vocal and can have around forty different calls. The most common is ‘teacher, teacher’ which many compare to a squeaky wheelbarrow. These woodland birds can be found throughout the UK, and have quickly adapted to life in our gardens.

The great tit eats insects, seeds and nuts, and can be aggressive at bird tables when competing for food left for birds.
Photograph by Ben Hall (RSPB-images.com)

They feed primarily on insects but will happily take sunflower seeds and others from a bird feeder. In the summer they feed their young protein-rich caterpillars which they prep by removing the guts before feeding to the chicks.

Great tits are some of the earlier nesters and will start to look for sites in February. They can easily be encouraged to nest in gardens by putting up nest boxes, as long as they are sited at least one metre off the ground with a clear flight access to the entrance. Watchers will be rewarded by seeing the adults flying through the garden with various bits of nesting material to make a snug home.

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