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  • Writer's pictureHarris Brooker

Tit Species in Speyside

In this blog post we’ll talk about the five species of tit that occur in Speyside. All of them can occur on bird feeders here, but one of them only in certain places. All of them live here year round. Some of them may be familiar, others less so, but let’s delve into detail about five members of the tit family you may come across this winter.



Blue Tit (Cyanistes Caeruleus) - One of our most familiar garden birds, the Blue Tit has a colourful plumage of blue, yellow and white. The blue on the head has sometimes been likened to a skullcap. They are relatively small, about 12cm long with an 18cm wingspan, and weighing about 11g. Despite their small size they are big on character, easily visiting gardens even in built up areas. They eat seeds, nuts, caterpillars and insects, which they can glean from the thinnest of foliage. They make a soft whistling, that sometimes includes a nasal sneezing call.

One interesting fact about Blue Tits is that they can see ultraviolet light. Studies have shown that their blue crowns glow brightly under ultraviolet light and males apparently choose females with the brightest crowns as they are thought to make fitter mothers.


In this image there is a bird called a Blue Tit, which is small, has a blue and white face and a yellow breast and is sat on a clump of pine needles covered in snow.
Blue Tit (Photo Credit: Jane Hope)


Great Tit (Parus Major) - The largest of the tits in Speyside. They have black and white faces, a yellow breast with a black stripe down the middle and a green back with bluish wings. Although sexes may look alike at first glance, you can tell a male Great Tit for having a thicker black stripe down the middle of its breast, whereas in the female it is thinner and can look more squiggly towards the bottom, or at the very least look more disrupted.  It has a body length of 14cm, a wingspan of 24cm and can weigh up to 18g. Its legs are also grey. Its calls can be very varied, at times including mimicry of other species but the most unmistakable one is the classic ‘teacha-teacha-teacha’.


In this image there is a bird called a Great Tit which is small, has a black and white face and breast band, a yellow breast, with a greenish back and bluish wings, sat on a twig.
Great Tit (Photo Credit: Jane Hope)



Coal Tit (Periparus Ater) - A smaller species of tit that looks outwardly like a Great Tit at first but is smaller, more bull necked, has no black line down its pale yellowish-white breast, has a greyish blue back and its black and white face has a white line down the back of its head, which the Great Tit doesn’t have. The leg colour is also grey. It can be found in all kinds of woodland, especially conifers. They eat insects, seeds and nuts which they can glean from the thinnest of branches and can hang upside down to get at its food. They can grow to 11.5cm in length, have a wingspan of about 17 to 21 centimetres and can weigh between 8 to 10g. Its legs are also grey. Its calls can be transcribed as sounding like ‘two-way, two-way, two way’ or ‘me-too, me-too, me-too’.


In this image there is a bird called a Coal Tit, which is small, has a black and white face, bluish grey upper parts with two white wingbars and a pale yellowish-white breast, sat on a clump of pine needles covered in snow.
Coal Tit (Photo Credit: Jane Hope)


Crested Tit (Lophophanes Cristatus) - This is a pine forest species that within the UK is largely confined to Scotland. It has a black and white face with a tinge of grey, with a black girdle around its neck. The throat itself is black. It has a reddish orange iris and a crest on top of its head that looks like a tuft of hair. Its back is brown and the breast, a pale brownish white. The body length is about is 11.5cm, has a wingspan of between 17 to 20cm and weighs 10 to 13g. Its legs are also grey. There are around 1500 pairs of Crested Tit breeding in the UK with an extra 5200 to 9500 birds from continental Europe that come to spend the winter there. They eat insects and seeds which they can glean from thin vegetation and hang upside down the same way Coal Tits can. Although largely confined to Scotland in the UK, you can also see them in Scandinavia, other parts of Northern Europe and even Spain. Its calls are well worth knowing, especially if you’re trying to separate other tit species by call. They make a high pitched trilling sound which once recognised you’ll never forget. They do move quickly through the treetops, but luckily if you want sustained views of them they do visit bird feeders in some areas.


In this image there is a bird called a Crested Tit, which is small, has a black and white face tinged with grey, has a spiky crest, brown back and pale whitish-brown belly, sat on a twig covered in lichens.
Crested Tit (Photo Credit: Jane Hope)



Long Tailed Tit (Aegithalos Caudatus) - A tiny bird, with a black and white plumage tinged with pink, it has an absurdly long tail in proportion to its body size. Its body length is around 14cm, has a wingspan of around 16 to 19cm and can weigh between 7 and 10g.  The leg colours by contrast to the aforementioned species are brown. Juveniles look browner with less distinctive head markings. They can often be seen in dense flocks feeding together, mainly on insects, but seeds are sometimes taken in the autumn and winter. They are not in the tit family Paridae like the aforementioned species, long tailed tits are in the bushtit family Aegithalidae which contains twelve other species mostly found in Asia with one in North America. Their calls are high pitched and whistling, ‘si-si-si-si-si’ often made with soft twittering.


In this image there is a small bird called a Long Tailed Tit which has a white breast, black brow and back with a pink patch and has a long black tail, sat on a twig.
Long Tailed Tit (Photo Credit: Jane Hope)



If you would like your chance to see all of these species, maybe even in one day, you can book one of our guides on our Speyside Wildlife Day Guiding Page.

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