Marsh Tit, Identification, Habitat & Food

Marsh tits are easily confused with willow tits, and even experienced birders find identification difficult. The best way to tell them apart is by their calls. A willow tit has a ‘tsshey or aeg’ call whereas a marsh tit call sounds like ‘pitchou’.
Marsh Tit identification guide
Marsh tits are easily confused with willow tits, and even experienced birders find identification difficult. The best way to tell them apart is by their calls. A willow tit has a ‘tsshey or aeg’ call whereas a marsh tit call sounds like ‘pitchou’.

Marsh Tit Identification: What does a marsh tit look like?

Length: 11cm.

Adult (male and female alike) are shiny, have jet black forehead, crown nape and chin. They have a brown mantle, scapulars, back, rump and upper-tail coverts. Cheeks and ear-coverts are white, with whitish-brown sides of the neck. Their under parts are dirty white tinged brownish on the flanks. The bill is black and they have grey-blue legs. The Marsh Tit is very similar to the Willow Tit and is best distinguished from it by the voice. The Marsh Tit has no pale patch on the wing, although this is not easy to observe in the field. The young resembles the adult but is tinged greyish and the under parts are white.

Marsh tit illustration for identification

What sounds does a marsh tit make, what is its call?

Their call is a ‘pitchu’, also a ‘tchaay’, which is less grating than the Willow Tit’s. Their song is a monotonous and rattling ‘schep-schep’.

When do marsh tits breed and reproduce?

Breeding starts from mid-April. The nest is a cup of moss lined with hair and feathers to form a felted layer. It is built by the female alone, and is situated in a natural hole in a stump or tree, or sometimes a wall. She may occasionally excavate a hole.

The female will lay six to nine white eggs with reddish-brown speckles. Usually single brooded in the North and double brooded in the South. Incubation is carried out by the female alone for thirteen to seventeen days. Both parents tend the young, who remain in the next for sixteen to twenty-one days.

What is the marsh tits natural habitat? Where to see marsh tits

Frequents deciduous woodland and scrub.

What do marsh tits eat?

Eats mainly insects and larvae. Will also consume seeds and berries.

Where to feed marsh tits

Feeders – Ideally above 1m in height

Table Feeder – Open topped covered

Ground – Not suitable

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