Female Blue Tits: A Complete Guide

Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) are a very common sight in gardens across the UK and most of Europe. As you watch these beautiful little blue birds hop, glide and dance around your feeding stations, you might wonder which are male and female. Well, here is a complete guide to female blue tits, the jobs they do and how you can tell them apart from the males.

Male and female blue tits are very difficult to tell apart from their plumage colour alone. Their physical appearances are so similar that unless you’re an ornithologist, you may struggle to notice any differences at all.

Female blue tits are a bit duller in colour than males, and males have a more pronounced neckband that runs from their eyes down their neck. However, unless the male and female are sat next together, not moving at all, it can be very difficult to use these markings to clearly identify the sex of a blue tit.

Some behavioural differences between male and female blue tits do make telling them apart a bit easier. And that is what we’ll focus on below.

The best time of year to tell female and male blue tits apart is in April. This is when the breeding season for these birds begins, and both sexes get busy with their different jobs. The female blue tit builds the nest each year. So, if you see a blue tit with moss, twigs or grass in their mouth, there is a very high chance it is a female.

It's incredibly difficult to tell male and female Blue Tits apart by just their plumage

It's incredibly difficult to tell male and female Blue Tits apart by just their plumage

What is the difference between a male and female Blue Tit?

A female blue tit has a slightly duller plumage than the male. However, unlike other bird species where the female is brown, and the male is the brightest green or blue, for example, blue tits have very similar coloured feathers. So, spotting a female blue tit just from plumage alone is very hard, even for experts.

The big difference between male and female blue tits are certain behaviours. During the beginning of the breeding season, for example, the female blue tit builds the nest. It takes them about 1-2 weeks to complete. So, in early April, if you see a blue tit with twigs, grass or moss in their mouth, it is very likely to be a female.

During the breeding season, the male also becomes very territorial. They will have fights with other males to protect the female and the nest. So, if you see a blue tit having a disagreement with another, they are likely males. If you see a blue tit watching on rolling their eyes and questioning their life decisions, that will be the female.

Pair of Blue Tits perched in a tree

Pair of Blue Tits perched in a tree

What does a female Blue Tit look like?

Female blue tits have a yellow chest and blue wing, and butt feathers. Their faces are mostly white with bands of blue that begin at their eyeline and flow nicely down the back of their head onto their neck.

They look very similar to male blue tits, but their plumage is slightly duller than the males. The band around their neck is also slightly smaller than the one of the male. However, their colourings are so similar it is difficult to spot whether they are male or female from this alone.

Female Blue Tit gathering nesting materials

Female Blue Tit gathering nesting materials

Behaviour differences

April is the best time to tell which sex a blue tit is. This is the start of their breeding season, and both sexes have different jobs to complete. The female constructs the nest. This takes about 1-2 weeks, which gives you a window of time to tell their sex. If you see a blue tit with any nest building material in their mouth (twigs, hair, moss, feathers, grass and so on), it is most likely a female.

During the breeding season, the male blue tit also becomes very territorial and aggressive to other blue tits. So, if you see any aggressive blue tits in your area during this time, it is most likely a male blue tit.

Singing and calls

The songs and calls of male and female blue tits are very similar. However, the male tit becomes very vocal during the breeding season. This is him saying it is his patch and telling other males to steer clear of it.

If you hear a blue tit being very vocal during April, it is most likely a male. Or a female telling him to come back to nest that she has worked tirelessly to prepare.

Blue Tit feeding chick in the nest

Blue Tit feeding chick in the nest

Nesting and feeding

During the nesting season of blue tits, you are very unlikely to see female tits. This is because they are busy laying and incubating eggs. They lay one egg a day and can have clutches up to 12 eggs. So, the females don’t really have much time to do anything other than lay eggs and keep them warm.

During this time, the male blue tit will bring food back to the nest for the female. The male also does most of the feeding after the chicks hatch, but the female does some too. So, from the start of May until June, males are very active, and females are nursing their young a lot of the time. If you see a blue tit during this period, it is more likely to be male than female.

Eurasian Blue Tit perched on a branch during the winter

Eurasian Blue Tit perched on a branch during the winter

Can female blue tits raise young alone?

Female blue tits build their nests alone and incubate the eggs alone. However, they rely on the males to bring food back to the nest. During the nesting period, females use a lot of energy laying eggs (they lay one egg a day and can have clutches of up to 12 eggs). So, they don’t have the energy to find food as well.

It is quite unlikely that a female blue tit would have the energy to raise young alone because of how much energy is zapped from her during this time of year.

How to tell blue tits apart out of breeding season

Unless you have a very keen eye, identifying blue tits out of breeding season is very difficult. Their colourings are so similar that even keen expert birdwatchers struggle with this. The best way is to take lots of photos and then compare these with photos of female and male blue tits.

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