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Conservation status: Red

This is a small, mainly brown bird, with a shiny black cap, dark 'bib' and pale belly. In the UK its identification is made tricky by the very similar appearance of our race of willow tit. They're so hard to identify that ornithologists didn't realise there were two species until 1897!

Illustrations

Overview

Latin name

Poecile palustris

Family

Tits (Paridae)

Where to see them

Despite their name, marsh tits are most often found in broadleaf woodland, and also copses, parks and gardens. They occur across England and Wales, with a few in southern Scotland but are most abundant in south Wales and southern and eastern England.

When to see them

At any time of year

What they eat

Insects and seeds. If marsh tits find a good supply – perhaps at a garden feeder – they may start to hoard seeds, burying and hiding them for a rainy day. Their hippocampus – the part of their brain which specialises in remembering things – is large, bigger than a great tit's.

Population

EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-41,000 territories--

Distribution

Key

There are a few features (of varying reliability) which help to tell apart marsh and willow tits: marsh tits have a glossy cap and a neater 'bib' under their chin. If you get a really good look, you might be able to see the pale 'cutting' edge to a marsh tit's beak. But it's easier to identify them by their call: a 'pitchoo' which sounds a bit like a sneeze.

Audio

Ruud van Beusekom, Xeno-canto

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