Marsh tit

©Margaret Holland

Marsh tit

Scientific name: Poecile palustris
Despite its name, the marsh tit actually lives in woodland and parks in England and Wales. It is very similar to the willow tit, but has a glossier black cap and a 'pitchoo' call that sounds like a sneeze!

Species information


Length: 13cm
Wingspan: 22cm
Weight: 13g
Average lifespan: 2 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 marsh tit is a small, mainly brown bird, with a shiny black cap, neat black bib and pale belly. It is so similar to the Willow Tit that ornithologists didn't realise they were two separate species until 1897!
Despite their name, marsh tits are most often found in broadleaf woodland, copses, parks and gardens. They feed mostly on insects, seeds and berries, and often cache food over winter if they find a good supply. They nest in existing tree holes, rather than excavating their own, and produce seven to nine eggs.

How to identify

There are a few features which help distinguish marsh and willow tit: marsh tit have a glossier black cap and a neater bib under the chin; they have a pale 'cutting' edge to their beaks (which can be seen up close); and they produce a 'pitchoo' call, which sounds a bit like a sneeze.


Widespread in England and Wales.

Did you know?

Marsh tits can be attracted to large gardens near to woodland by putting out peanuts, sunflower seeds and fat balls.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland 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.