Quick facts

Common name: 
long-tailed tit

Scientific name: Aegithalos caudatus

Family: Aegithalidae (long-tailed tits)

Habitat: woodland, farmland, parks and gardens

Diet: insects and invertebrates

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

Origin: native

What do long-tailed tits look like?

Long-tailed tits are very small birds, typically less than half the weight of a robin. They have a fluffy pale-pinkish breast, dark wings, a short beak and, of course, a long tail.

Despite their name, long-tailed tits are not closely related to the tit family (Paridae), which includes the blue tit, great tit and others.

Long-tailed tit hanging upside down from branch

Credit: John Tomsett / WTML

What do long-tailed tits eat?

Long-tailed tits mainly feed on insects and invertebrates. The eggs of moths and butterflies are commonly taken, as are caterpillars.

The birds pluck their prey from tree branches and other vegetation. Seeds may be eaten in winter when food is scarce and they will often visit bird feeders.

How do long-tailed tits breed?

Long-tailed tits build a nest made from moss, lichen, feathers and spider silk. Six to eight eggs are normally laid in April and will hatch after up to three weeks. The chicks fledge after around two weeks in the nest.

Did you know?

Long-tailed tits huddle together at night to keep warm.

Long-tailed tit in flight

Credit: Tim Mason / Alamy Stock Photo

Where do long-tailed tits live?

Long-tailed tits can be found throughout the UK, with the exception of the most mountainous parts of Scotland. The species is at home in woodland, but can also be found in farmland, parks and gardens, provided there is plenty of tree cover.

Did you know?

In winter, long-tailed tits often forage for food alongside other small birds.

Signs and spotting tips

Long-tailed tits are highly social birds and you’ll rarely see one alone. Look for flocks flitting from branch to branch, rarely staying still for more than a second.

The long tail is the easiest way to distinguish the species from other small birds. Its call is a high-pitched ‘tsurp’ sound.

Long-tailed tit song

Audio: Andrew Harrop / xeno-canto.org

Long-tailed tit perched on branch

Credit: John Bridges / WTML

Threats and conservation

The long-tailed tit population is doing well and is thought to have roughly doubled since the 1970s. However, the loss of woodland and felling of trees threatens the species’ habitat.