Coal Tit

(Periparus ater)

Alert Status: Green - 61% increase
Identifying Features: Smallest European tit; has a white patch on the nape.
Average Length: 11.5 cm
Average Lifespan: 2 Years
Average Wingspan: 17-21 cm
Beak type: Insects

Feeding:
Natural: Insects, seeds, black sunflower seeds & sunflower hearts
How to feed: Hanging feeders
What to feed: Peanuts, suet treats, seed mixes, sunflower hearts

Nesting: Hollow trees or mouse holes; constructed of moss, wool, dead leaves & spider webs.
Where to see: UK Wide. Woodlands; especially conifers, parks & gardens

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Coal Tit song by david m, Xeno-canto
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Fascinating facts

The coal tit is grey above and buff below. It’s black cap, white cheeks and a white patch at the back of its neck make this smallest of our British tits, quite distinctive. Both males and females are incredibly similar in size and appearance, measuring around 12cm in length, and weighing in at 9-10g. The only way to really tell them apart is that males have an extra stripe of white on the back of their heads. Juvenile coal tits display a yellow hue on the cheeks and napes.

This tiny little bird favours coniferous woodland although it can be spotted in parks and gardens, especially if there are conifer trees available to them. Coal tits are active feeders, using their slim bill to hunt for insects and spiders among the smaller branches and leaves.

They will also feed on seeds and nuts so having a bird feeder in your garden will no doubt attract the coal tit! When food is plentiful they will take it and hide for when times are harder. Unfortunately, the coal tit’s memory isn’t great, so you can often find forgotten sunflower seeds, germinating in the most unlikely places!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breeding season usually starts in April. Nests are built in the hollows of trees, mouse holes or nestboxes. Moss, spiders web, dead leaves, hair and feathers are used. Around 7-12 small eggs are laid, these will hatch in just over two weeks. The eggs are smooth, white and glossy with reddish-brown speckles. The eggs are incubated by the female but the young are fed by both parents.

Did you know? The coal tit has the curious record of having the greatest number of bird fleas reported in a single nest, 5,754 fleas altogether!

Coal tits have a hidden crest that raises into a small spike-shape when they are agitated.

Their song is a series of high-pitched repeated phrases that have been likened to the sound of a bicycle pump!

Coal tits rarely move more than 50 miles from their birthplaces.

Although the average lifespan of a coal tit is just 2 years, in 1983 one ringed bird was recorded at 8 years, 9 months and 26 days old!

coal tit on spade fork handle gardening-
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