Blue Tit

Cyanistes caeruleus

The Eurasian blue tit, of which there are nine sub-species, is a small round headed tit, common to gardens and woodland areas throughout most of Europe and encroaching into Asia Minor.

Other names:

Eurasian Blue Tit

Blue Tit

Family:

Tits

Length:

12cm

Wingspan:

18cm

Weight:

11g to g

What does a Eurasian Blue Tit look like?

The adult male has a blue cap with white cheeks and forehead and a black stripe running from the base of the upper mandible, through the eye to the nape of the neck. There is a narrow black vertical stripe on the chin running from the base of the lower mandible to the throat. The underparts are a pale yellow with a dark vertical streak extending down from the area of the lower chest to the belly. The upperparts are predominantly a blue green hue from the lower mantle down the back to a slightly paler and more yellowy rump. The upper mantle area is a paler greyish blue shade. The bastard wing and upper wing coverts are a bright blue, edged in a pale grey. The blue greater wing coverts have white tips resulting in a narrow white wing bar extending from an area in front of the secondary flight feathers, to the bird’s back. Upper tail coverts are bright blue with darker blue tail feathers edged in a brighter blue. The very small bill is dark grey to black and the legs are a dark grey. Adult females are very similar to the male with overall slightly less blue colouration and more grey to the upperparts. Juvenile blue tits are not dissimilar but have a greenish cap with greyish drab yellow underparts.

Blue Tit

A pair of Blue Tits

What does a Eurasian Blue Tit sound like?

Blue tits make quite a lot of noise. They are social birds and vocalise to other members of their group or loose flock, frequently using a single short ‘tsee’, sometimes repeated. Chicks and fledglings use a similar sound resulting in an almost continuous cacophony of ‘tsee – tsee – tsee – tsee – tsee’.

Eurasian Blue Tit Call / Song

Manceau Lionel, XC646473. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/646473.

Blue Tit

Blue Tit in flight

What does a Eurasian Blue Tit eat?

A varied diet of fruit, seeds, insects, spiders, caterpillars, grubs and larvae often augmented by nuts and food from garden feeders and bird tables sustains these active little birds.

Did you know?

The Eurasian blue tit is from the scientific order of birds known as Passeriformes which contains more than five thousand different species and accounts for over fifty per cent of the world’s total bird population. Passeriformes are also known as ‘perching birds’ and can be identified by the fact that they have three forward facing and one rearward facing toe, thus enabling them to perch on branches, telephone wires and fences etc. When the foot and talon of this order of birds is in the relaxed mode the ‘claw’ is automatically in the clenched position and it is this feature that allow sleeping birds to perch on objects or branches without falling off.

Blue Tit

A blue tit feeding on a caterpillar

Distribution

Apart from Iceland and northern parts of Scandinavia the Eurasian blue tit can be found throughout the United Kingdom and continental Europe encompassing most Mediterranean islands including Mallorca, Rhodes and Crete. It is also a resident of Morocco and Libya and sub-species can be found in southern Russia, Crimea and the Caucasus, Turkey, Jordan, Iran, Iraq and into Turkmenistan.

Blue Tit

Eurasian Blue Tit perched

Signs and Spotting tips

Preferring large broadleaf or mixed woodland areas, hedgerows, parks and gardens, the Eurasian blue tit is a common sight and easily identifiable with its small size but distinctive yellow, blue, black and white patternation. Although it is similar to the Great Tit it is, in fact smaller, and can be distinguished by its round blue head, white forehead with black eye stripe and tiny bill.

Blue Tit

Breeding

The female constructs a small cup shaped nest out of moss and other plant material which is normally sited in a tree or wall and lays up to two clutches annually between April to late June. The timing of egg production is often governed by the availability of caterpillars in particular, which is the favoured food of nestlings. Generally, between 7 – 16 eggs are laid and incubated by the female alone for a period of fifteen days, with fledging occurring some three weeks later.

Blue Tit

Blue Tit nest with eggs

Blue Tit

Blue Tit feeding chicks

How long do Eurasian Blue Tits live for?

Average lifespan for the Eurasian blue tit is two to three years.

Similar birds to a Blue Tit

Other birds in the Tits family