Coal Tit

Periparus ater

11.5cm

Appearance

The Coal Tit is a small tit with a largish black head, striped with white down the back of it. It has a narrow, dark bill, white cheeks, greyish-blue wings and back, pinkish buff belly, and two white wing bars. Birds in Ireland have a yellowish tinge in their white sections, while European birds tend to be greyer on their backs. Juveniles resemble adults but are less vivid, and their wing bars are yellow rather than white.

Habitat

Predominately dwells in conifer, but may frequent sessile oak woods in England, and birch in Scotland. Regularly visits gardens and parkland when not breeding. The Coal Tit is not found in the northern islands, and may be found in surprising environments if the search for food leads it there during winter.

Character

An acrobatic bird that may search the canopies for food; also rummages in tree trunks. Dangles the wrong way up or hovers beneath branches and leaves. May join other woodland birds including Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests.

Food

Diet includes the larvae and adults of insects. Also eats spiders, and feeds on various seeds during autumn and winter. When the Coal Tit finds abundant food, it may hide some to eat when times are tougher.

Breeding

Females lay 9 or 10 eggs, and then incubate them for 14-16 days. Both parents feed the young, which depart nest after about 16 days. Birds breeding amidst conifer are the most likely pairs to have a second brood.

Population

The Coal Tit is a resident bird of the region. It may move to nearby territories once breeding has concluded. Britain does receive some continental visitors, areas in the south-east are the most likely hosts. Approximately 760 000 pairs breed in the UK, and more than 100 000 in Ireland.

Observation Tips

The vocals of the Coal Tit are very helpful in finding the species, particularly in breeding periods. It’s worth examining flocks of birds in search of the Coal Tit, as it may join other woodland birds when looking for food in winter.

Voice

Has a fine ‘see, see, see’ call, and a high-pitched ‘teechu-teechu-teechu’ song.
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