The Ultimate Guide to the Willow Tit

What is the Willow Tit and what do they look like?

willow-tit

 

The Willow tit is a small bird between the size of a great tit and a blue tit, with a large black cap which covers most of its head and extends down the back of its neck. It has a very small, black bib and its wings are a mix of grey/brown with pale yellow underparts.

It looks very similar to its cousin, the Marsh tit and can sometimes be mistaken for one. The population of these small birds has declined by 94% since year 1970 due to the dramatic loss of their woodland and wet scrub habitats, making the Willow tit a red list, threatened species.

There are around 3,400 breeding pairs of Willow tit in the UK today, however the population continues to decrease. One easy way to recognize a Willow tit is by their unmistakable call. You can start by hearing a brief introduction of ‘pi’ followed by three buzzing ‘chay’ notes. This loud and distinctive call is what really allows you to recognize whenever a Willow tit is near.

What do Willow Tits eat?

willow-tit

 

The Willow tit’s diet mainly consists of Insects and insect larvae, however they will eat seeds and some types of berries from bird feeders during the winter when food is scarce. Willow tits are rare, but welcome visitors to gardens and are among the most persistent and successful visitors to feeders and food tables.

You may see them in groups of 3 or more, commonly during the winter time, flutter into your back garden and on to the tables to eat sunflower seeds and berries from bird feeders and ground feeders.

However, these small birds are independent scavengers and will often look for their own food such as wild berries from bushes and thickets instead of always relying on bird feeders for regular meals.

 

Where does the Willow Tit live?

The Willow tits are mainly found in England, Wales and some south parts in Scotland. Willow tits are commonly seen in thickets in wet scrub and damp places, wet woodland areas, the edges of marshes and around gravel pits. Willow Tits don’t migrate so they can be seen in the UK all year round.

Due to the decreasing numbers of the Willow Tit population, it has become harder and much more rare to spot one of these small birds around your garden, however in the winter, and some times during spring and summer if your bird feeders are full, you may be lucky enough to get a few Willow tit visitors in your back garden.

 

Where do Willow Tits nest?

These tiny, adorable little birds, seem to believe themselves to be woodpeckers and try to imitate their behaviour by hollowing out their own nests from old and decaying birch and willow trees in wet woodland areas. They use their tiny beaks to continually chip away at the soft, rotting bark until they have formed a small hollow, and afterwards use the resulting wood chippings for the base of their nests.

The female will then lay a clutch of around 6 to 8 small white/brown speckled eggs. Willow Tits have also been known to make their homes in artificial, man made nest boxes up in trees as well building them themselves.

 

What does a Willow Tit’s call sound like?

Click on this link to hear what the Willow Tit’s call sounds like.

Willow Tit Call