Daily Archives: February 28, 2009


GREAT TIT (Parus major)

Colourful Great Tit

Colourful Great Tit

Here are some facts about the Great Tit


Forages in hedges and trees for insects, spiders and worms. Also likes –

  • Fruit
  • Peas
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Coconut
  • Fat
  • Suet
  • Cheese

The Great Tit likes woodland habitat.

It has a beak strong enough to crack hazel and beech nuts.

Can crack hazel and beech nuts as well

Can crack hazel and beech nuts with their beak

The Great Tit is a visitor to many bird tables but also likes to feed on the ground.

The Great Tit is the largest of the British tits and is easy to recognise because of its yellow breast and long black central band which runs from its chin to its tail.  It has a black and white head.  It is a really colourful bird.

The tail is blue grey with white outer feathers.

Females have less glossy caps and less black on the breast.


I always think the Great Tit looks pretty and charming but in reality it can be aggressive to other birds who try and share the bird table or peanut feeder. 

I have seen Great Tits behave aggressively in spring and Summer when they are defending their area.   They open their beaks and spread their wings to try to get the other bird to go away.  This war keeps on going until one of the birds gives up and flys away.  It is really interesting to watch.

There have been recordings of Great Tits actually killing other birds.  Their beak is a good weapon – it must be as it can open a hazel-nut.

The Great Tit is a true woodland bird.  They rely on insect food to feed their young.

Great Tits also depend on garden feeders and bird tables and can make themselves at home in gardens.

Great Tit enjoying a fat ball

Great Tit enjoying a fat ball

SIZE OF BIRD – 14 cm

EGGS   5 to 11 eggs are laid.  The eggs are white with red spots

INCUBATION  – 13 to 14 days

BREEDING – One brood

Great Tits have been known to take over blue tits nest boxes.  They put a new lining over the blue tits eggs and hatch their own eggs (bird against bird again)

3 weeks (approx).  The young are fed mainly on caterpillars.  The Great tits time their families to work with the peak numbers of caterpillars.  This time changes each year.

Question – how do the birds know weeks in advance when there will be the most caterpillars about.

The Great Tit makes a nest from grasses, moss, wool and any other material that is available.  They will nest in many places.  Some of the places are

  • hole fronted nest boxes,
  • tree holes,
  • eaves,
  • stone walls,
  • flowerpots

Males take little or no part in building the nest, but they feed the hen while she is incubating and laying the eggs.

  1 1/8 inch (29mm) diamater entrance hole or slightly larger.  Interior depth of at least 5 inches (127mm) from hole to floor. 

Floor needs to be at least 4 inches x 4 inches (100mm x 100 mm)

Most of the birdsong has a ringing quality but lots of different calls have been described for the Great tit.  The song has been described as ‘clink’ and ‘teacher-teacher-teacher’


Great Tits should be welcome in the garden as they feed their young on protein – rich caterpillars. 

They also benefit from our birdtables and bird feeders – especially in winter.

Once the fledglings are independent from their parents they feed in flocks with other species of tits. 

They roost together in Summer and Autumn.

In winter, so they have better protection from the freezing cold weather they nestle alone in any crevice or perhaps a hole in a tree.   I know they will be visiting my bird feeders for many months to come.

It’s good to know the birdfood I put out and the hedges round the garden are useful and helping Great Tits and other birds keep in good condition.

I would like to thank Sara from FARMING FRIENDS for the photograph of the Great Tit eating a fatball. Thanks Sara[ad#125x125square][ad#125x125square][ad#125x125square]

Forest Farming

I watched a programme last week (the name of which I’ve forgotten, but will find out)

It was about what will happen when oil runs out – as it surely will.

Independently from each other farmers and gardeners have been looking at this.  Some for a number of years.

One of the answers seems to be something called forest farming.  This in a way is ‘layered’ gardening. 

The ground provides some fruit, higher up shrubs provide more food and even higher the trees help as well.

We would not grow wheat as much and would have to change out diet a little but these people think this is the way forward.

At the moment it costs a lot to put fertiliser on the soil to help the soil produce our food.  By using the  Forest Farming way the fertiliser is supplied naturally, by leaf mould, bird droppings and other items.

This can be done in a garden or on a big scale.

Must remember and find out more about the programme.

But it was heartening to think that we in this Country have the means to feed our selves, keep the countryside natural and help wildlife at the same time.

It may not all be doom and gloom.