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Great Tit

Great Tit
Both sexes: Yellow underparts, yellow-green upperparts, black and white head and broad black stripe down breast.

The Great Tit is the largest European tit - about the size of a House Sparrow.

The crown, nape and throat are black. The cheeks are white. The breast and belly are yellow with a black stripe down the centre. There is a white wing bar across the blue-grey wings. The back is a yellowish-green and the rump is blue-grey. Legs are grey-blue and the bill is black.

The sexes can be told apart by the width of the black stripe down the breast - the males have a broader stripe than the females.

Juveniles are paler and duller with yellowish cheeks and wing bar.

Scientific Name Parus major
Length 14 cm  (5½")
Wing Span 22-25 cm  (9-10")
Weight 16-21 g  (½-¾ oz)
Breeding Pairs 1600000
Present All Year
Status Green

Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.


The Great Tits' song is varied, but it's perhaps best known for for its piercing "teacher-teacher" song, which sounds very much like a bicycle pump, and is usually heard in the spring and summer.

A common call is a repeated "chink", which can be confused with the "pink pink" call of the Chaffinch.


© Jean Roché,

© Jean Roché,
Alarm Call

© Jean Roché,


Great tits feed on insects, such as caterpillars and spiders, seeds, like beech mast, and berries.

In the garden they will feed from hanging feeders containing nuts and seeds, such as sunflower hearts, or on kitchen scraps from bird tables.

They sometimes follow Coal Tits to their caches of seeds in the hanging baskets, etc.


They will nest in a hole in a tree or wall, or among the twigs of old nests. The nest is a cup made from moss, grass and down, and lined with hair, plant down and feathers. Nest boxes are frequently used.


Breeding Starts Clutches Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
March 1-2 7-15 13-14 16-22


Great Tits are resident and generally sedentary, though birds that breed in upland areas move to lowlands (altitudinal migration) for the winter.

In the winter, the east coast of Britain often has continental birds.


Generally, the Great Tit is doing well, both expanding its range and increasing in abundance. This may be a result of milder winters and using nest boxes and feeders in gardens.