Willow tit

©Harry Hogg

Willow tit

Scientific name: Poecile montanus
The willow tit lives in wet woodland and willow carr in England, Wales and southern Scotland. It is very similar to the marsh tit, but has a distinctive pale panel on its wings.

Species information


Length: 12cm
Wingspan: 19cm
Weight: 12g
Average lifespan: 3 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

January to December


The willow tit is strongly associated with wet woodland and willow carr growing in wetlands, bogs and around gravel pits. It is so similar to the marsh tit that it was not recognised as a separate species until 1897. Willow tits eat mostly insects, but will also eat berries and seeds when food is scarce in the winter. They use their small bills to excavate nest holes in decaying wood, which is unusual among the tit family. The female lays between six and eight eggs in a clutch.

How to identify

The willow tit is black, pale brown and white in colour, and is easily confused with the marsh tit. However, it has a pale panel on the wings and a sooty-black cap and bib. It has a distinctive, nasal 'zee, zee, zee' call, which is often the most reliable way to identify it.


A resident of England, Wales and southern Scotland.

Did you know?

Willow tits excavate their own nest holes in standing, decaying birch and willow, and use the resulting woodchippings as the base of their nest.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.