Blue tit (Parus caeruleus)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyParidae
GenusParus (1)
SizeLength: 10.5 - 12 cm (2)

The blue tit is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The rather diminutive blue tit (Parus caeruleus) has yellow underparts, with a narrow, dark central stripe on the belly, blue wings and a white face, which is crowned with blue and streaked with a dark eye-stripe (2). The sexes are similar, although females are often somewhat duller than males. The juveniles have a more yellowish face than the adults (2). A range of clear calls is produced, including a high 'sisisi' (2).

Found throughout Britain, but absent from the highest ground in Scotland (3). Elsewhere, the blue tit is found from Iberia and North Africa to Scandinavia, Russia, Turkey, and Iran (4).

The blue tit occurs in a range of habitats wherever there are trees, including broad-leaved woodlands, orchards, hedgerows, parks and suburban gardens (4).

The blue tit is an acrobatic and inquisitive bird; these traits have enabled it to exploit unusual food sources, for example by obtaining milk by pecking at milk-bottle tops on doorsteps. Furthermore, they are usually the first birds to find and use feeders put out in gardens, a trait which has greatly endeared them to the public (3). During summer they feed mainly on invertebrates, but switch to seeds and other food sources during winter when insects are scarce (3).

Nesting takes place in holes in walls and trees, as well as in nest boxes (4). The female lines the hole or nest box with moss, hair and feathers, and in early May lays 7 to12 (up to 16) white eggs speckled with reddish-brown (4). The male brings food to the female while she carries out the duty of incubation, which can take between 12 and 16 days (4). Both parents bring food to the young, which fledge after 15 to 23 days (4). Just one brood is produced each year (4).

The blue tit is not currently threatened (5).

No conservation action has been targeted at the blue tit.

For more information on the blue tit and other bird species:

Information authenticated by the RSPB:
http://www.rspb.org.uk/

  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Mullarney, K., Svensson, L., Zetterstrom, D., & Grant, P.J. (1999) Collins Bird Guide. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London.
  3. Lack, P. (1986) The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. D. Poyser Ltd, Calton.
  4. Gooder, J. (1982) Collins British Birds. William Collins Sons and Co Ltd, London.
  5. JNCC. Breeding birds in the wider countryside (Nov 2002):
    http://www.bto.org/birdtrends/wcrbluti.htm