Quick facts

Common name: great tit

Scientific name: Parus major

Family: Paridae (tits)

Habitat: woodland, farmland, parks and gardens

Diet: invertebrates, berries and seeds

Predators: sparrowhawks and cats take adults; chicks and eggs vulnerable to a wide range of predators

Origin: Native

What do great tits look like?

The great tit is a colourful bird with greenish-yellow plumage. It has a black head with striking white cheeks and is roughly the same size as a robin.

Not to be confused with: the blue tit, which is noticeably smaller and lacks a black head. Coal, marsh and willow tits are all smaller than great tits and have duller, less colourful plumage.

Great tit eating nut on teasel

Credit: John Bridges / WTML

What do great tits eat?

Insects and invertebrates account for much of the diet in summer. A range of prey is taken, including caterpillars, spiders, grasshoppers and flies. Berries and seeds become important food sources in winter when invertebrates are hard to find.

Did you know?

In Eastern Europe, great tits have been recorded attacking and eating hibernating bats.

How do great tits breed?

Great tits typically lay seven to nine eggs in April or May. These birds are cavity nesters, meaning they build their nests in holes within trees or other surfaces. They will readily use nest boxes. Chicks hatch after around two weeks and fledge up to three weeks later.

Great tit in nest

Credit: Frank Hecker / Alamy Stock Photo

Where do great tits live?

Great tits are found across the UK, in woodland, farmland and parks and gardens. The national population is estimated at more than two million birds.

Great tits on birdfeeder

Credit: Vasiliy Vishnevskiy / Alamy Stock Photo

Signs and spotting tips

Great tits are common birds and you stand a good chance of seeing them on any woodland walk. Listen out for their distinctive ‘teacher-teacher’ call.

Great tit song

Audio: Stuart Fisher / xeno-canto.org

Threats and conservation

The great tit is not of conservation concern and numbers have grown significantly since the 1970s. However, the species can suffer from habitat loss when trees and vegetation are destroyed.

Did you know?

Research has suggested that UK great tits may have evolved longer beaks than those on mainland Europe. This change has only occurred since the 1970s and may be due to a longer beak helping the birds access food in bird feeders.