Sounds of…Parks and Gardens - Finches and tits

Guide
Blue tit, Parus caeruleus, perched on lichen covered branch in garden. Co. Durham

Birdsong: it is the soundtrack to our adventures, the tunes to which we explore. This is your guide to some of the brilliant birds whose songs accompany you as you head out into the open air this spring and summer.

Blue tit, Parus caeruleus, perched on lichen covered branch in garden. Co. Durham

The Sounds of… Parks and Gardens –  Tits and Finches includes some of the more well-known birds which appear in our towns, cities and countryside. In fact some of them, like the blue tit, appear almost anywhere. 
 
We have also created another page of our more common birds, Sounds Of… Parks and Gardens.   
 
So whether it is the great tit’s squeaky bike pump of the greenfinches high pitched kazoo, we hope this guide will help you identify the calls of some of the most iconic species which sing, or shout, as you head outside this spring and summer.

Blue tit 

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The blue tit - petite fashion icon - who mixes it up with feathers of blue, yellow, white and green. Male and female are both on trend, with almost identical outfits.  

A bright and breezy tune, often sounding like “tsee tsee chu chu chu.”  It could be mistaken for a high-pitched mocking laugh, especially if you’re a self-conscious chaffinch.  

Great tit

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The great tit is the UK’s largest tit and has the confidence to go with the looks, often seen bossing smaller birds around at feeders. They make a striking entrance, with black heads, white cheeks and yellow bellies with a black stripe.  

A very simple song of two syllables, sounding a little like a squeaky bike pump. Some say it sounds like they’re saying “teacher, teacher” like a right tell-tale tit.  

Long-tailed tit

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The long-tailed tit is a raspberry ripple lollipop in bird form, with a tail bigger than its body. Often seen in excitable groups nosily flitting between bushes and feeders. 

Not a fan of singing, but likes a chat, often using high pitch shrills to communicate as groups dart from tree to tree. Also makes a “sirrut sirrut” sound when a bit nervous.  

Goldfinch

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Bringing the glamour to the garden, the pizazz to the park, the goldfinch’s gear is up there with the best. Bright yellow stripes spark against black wings, while it’s red face if offset by bright white cheeks. 

A tinkling, liquid song like the sound of a fast-flowing babbling brook. The silky stream of high-pitched notes ripple and race into the air in verses of a couple of seconds. 

Greenfinch

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The male greenfinch looks slightly stern with his dark eyes and chunky beak, but his warm green/yellow glow softens the stare. Female is a more subtle brown/green but both retain the eye-catching yellow stripes on their wings.  

Sometimes it’s the chu chu chu, sometimes a wup, wup wup, the short bright phrases and trills compliment the greenfinch’s vivid colour. The most distinctive sound though is a nasal “weeeeuz”, a little like they’re playing a high pitched kazoo.

If you're lucky...

Coal tit

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The coal tit is a small acrobatic expert who seems to never stop moving. It has a black head with white cheeks and chest, but no green like the great tit and it is smaller. Despite the name, they are very much on board with reducing fossil fuel use. Coal tits are found most commonly in woodlands, but can also be seen in parks and gardens.

Two syllables like the great tit, but higher, faster and more fluid in style. Less confident than his bigger cousin, as if they’re a little unsure if they’re singing the right words.   

Bullfinch

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The bullfinch is a plump, shy but beautiful bird who is easily spooked. The male’s breast and cheeks almost glow pinkish red while the female is duller with the same black cap and white rump.   Bullfinches do occasionally appear in gardens, but are most likely to be found in hedgerows, woodlands and orchards.

It’s “pew pew” call is the easiest way to know they are in your neck of the woods. But the male does sing too, a quiet rambling warble of a song, which stitches together short but varied phrases. Often, there are rich and flute like bursts, with a slightly reserved delivery fitting of their shy nature.