Willow tit

The willow tit (Poecile montanus) is a passerine bird in the tit family, Paridae. It is a widespread and common resident breeder throughout temperate and subarctic Europe and northern Asia. It is more of a conifer specialist than the closely related marsh tit, which explains it breeding much further north. It is resident, and most birds do not migrate.

In the east of its range it is much paler than marsh tit, but as one goes west the various races become increasingly similar, so much so that it was not recognised as a breeding bird in Great Britain until the end of the 19th century, despite being widespread. The British population has declined by 94% since 1970 making it the most threatened resident bird in Britain. It now the focus of a Back from the Brink project which aims to reverse this decline.[2]

The willow tit is distinguished from the marsh tit by a sooty brown instead of a glossy blue black cap; the general colour is otherwise similar, though the under parts are more buff and the flanks distinctly more rufous; the pale buff edgings to the secondaries form a light patch on the closed wing. The feathers of the crown and the black bib under the bill are longer, but this is not an easily noticed character. However, the more graduated tail (not square) shows distinctly when spread. Length is 11.5 cm, and wings range from 60–70 mm.

The commonest call is a nasal zee, zee, zee, but the notes of the bird evidently vary considerably. Occasionally a double note, ipsee, ipsee, is repeated four or five times.

The willow tit often excavates its own nesting hole, even piercing hard bark; this is usually in a rotten stump or in a tree, more or less decayed. Most nests examined are cups of felted material, such as fur, hair and wood chips, but feathers are sometimes used. The number of eggs varies from six to nine, with reddish spots or blotches..

Birds feed on insects, caterpillars, and seeds, much like other tits. This species is parasitised by the moorhen flea, Dasypsyllus gallinulae.[3]

Willow tit
Poecile montanus kleinschmidti
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Paridae
Genus: Poecile
P. montanus
Binomial name
Poecile montanus
Poecile montanus distribution map
Range of Poecile montanus

Parus montanus

Poecile montanus kleinschmidti 2
In the UK

Status in UK

According to the RSPB, the willow tit is in rapid decline and is now considered a 'red status' bird. This status was given for two factors:[4]

  1. BDp¹ - severe, at least 50%, decline in UK breeding population over last 25 years
  2. BDP² - severe, at least 50%, contraction of UK breeding range over the entire period used for assessments since the first BoCC review starting in 1969

Conservation work is continuing to determine the cause of the willow tit's decline in population and to try to identify ways to improve the situation.[5]


Parus montanus MWNH 2284
Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden, Germany

Most authorities retain Poecile as a subgenus within the genus Parus, but the American Ornithologists' Union treats it as a distinct genus. The most recent molecular taxonomic analysis,[6] using both nuclear and mitochondrial genes, supports Poecile as a distinct clade including the chickadees and a group of Eurasian tits, the white-browed tit Poecile superciliosus, the sombre tit, P. lugubris, the rusty-breasted tit P. davidi, the marsh tit P. palustris, the Caspian Tit P. hyrcanus and the black-bibbed tit P. hypermelaenus; the Songar tit is included as a subspecies of the willow tit. Within Poecile, most of the Old World species (including the willow tit) are placed a separate clade from the New World species.

The current genus name, Poecile, is the Ancient Greek name for a now unidentifiable small bird, and the specific montanus is Latin for "of the mountains".[7] The genus name has often been treated as feminine (giving the species name ending montana); however, this was not specified by the original genus author Johann Jakob Kaup, and under the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature the genus name must therefore be treated by default as masculine, giving the name ending montanus.

At one time the willow tit was considered conspecific with the black-capped chickadee of North America due to their very similar appearance. This is seen in an older version of the Peterson Field Guide, Birds of Britain and Europe. Underneath the name it states; "N Am. Black-Capped Chickadee" as an alternate name. In fact the willow tit, black-capped chickadee, marsh tit and Carolina chickadee are all very similar to one another in appearance.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Parus montanus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2012: e.T22711703A38464844. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012-1.RLTS.T22711703A38464844.en. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Willow Tit". Back from the Brink. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  3. ^ Rothschild, Miriam; Clay, Theresa (1953). Fleas, Flukes and Cuckoos. A study of bird parasites. London: Collins. p. 113.
  4. ^ "Birds of Conservation Concern 3 - 2009" (PDF). Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  5. ^ "Willow Tit". RSPB. Retrieved 2012-05-18.
  6. ^ Johansson, U. S., Ekman, J., Bowie, R. C. K., Halvarsson, P., Ohlson, J. I., Price, T. D., & Ericson, P. G. P. (2013). A complete multilocus species phylogeny of the tits and chickadees (Aves: Paridae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 69, 852-860, doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.06.019
  7. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 259, 311. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
1827 in birding and ornithology

First part of Birds of America by John James Audubon published. Teyler's Museum was a notable Subscriber.

John Gould becomes the first Curator and Preserver at the museum of the Zoological Society of London

Death of Morten Thrane Brünnich

Thomas Conrad von Baldenstein describes the willow tit

Thomas Horsfield and Nicholas Aylward Vigors publish A description of the Australian birds in the collection of the Linnean Society with an attempt at arranging them according to their natural affinities

William John Swainson publishes A synopsis of the birds discovered in Mexico by W. BullockF.L.S

Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy established by Robert Edmond Grant who had campaigning for a new Zoological Society museum run professionally rather than by aristocratic grandees and tried to turn the British Museum into a research institution run along French lines.

René Primevère Lesson new bird species in Voyage autour du monde exécuté par Ordre du Roi sur la Corvette de Sa Majesté, La Coquille pendant les années 1822, 1823, 1824 et 1825 (Atlas)

Giuseppe Acerbi describes the Yelkouan shearwater

Charles Lucien Bonaparte publishes Specchio Comparativo delle Ornithologie di Roma e di Filadelfia in Pisa

1827-1833 Jan van der Hoeven publishes "Handboek der Dierkunde" A second edition was published in 1855

Black-capped chickadee

The black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) is a small, nonmigratory, North American songbird that lives in deciduous and mixed forests. It is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is the state bird of Massachusetts in the United States, and the provincial bird of New Brunswick in Canada. It is well known for its capability to lower its body temperature during cold winter nights as well as its good spatial memory to relocate the caches where it stores food, and its boldness near humans (sometimes feeding from the hand).


Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen is a nature reserve on the outskirts of the Belgian city of Ghent. It lies mainly in the district of Mariakerke and covers 230 hectares. It mostly consists of wet, often flooded, meadows interspersed with ditches and canals, and is an important wintering area for water birds. It acts as a buffer zone between the city and the R4 ring road's noise-reducing barriers have been erected to lessen the road's impact on the wildlife.There are three main trails through the reserve and at the centre is the Valkenhuis or Falcon House, a historic building previously used by falconers for the training of birds for the Counts of Flanders. A visitor information centre was built in 2006 at the entrance to the reserve.

Cow Wood and Harry's Wood

Cow Wood and Harry's Wood is a 75.5-hectare (187-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest east of Handcross in West Sussex. it is in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.This area of ancient semi-natural woodland is crossed by ghylls, streams in steep valleys which have a warm and moist microclimate. Forty-seven species of breeding birds have been recorded, including wood warbler, willow tit, hawfinch and lesser spotted woodpecker.

Cucknell's Wood

Cucknell's Wood is a 11-hectare (27-acre) nature reserve south-east of Shamley Green in Surrey. It is managed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust.Birds in this 400 year old semi-natural wood include great spotted woodpecker, lesser spotted woodpecker, willow tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, goldcrest, green woodpecker and tawny owl. There are mammals such as dormice.There is access from Stroud Lane.


Cwmbach is a village and community (and electoral ward) near Aberdare, in the county borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales. Cwmbach means 'Little Valley' in Welsh (Cwm = valley, Bach = little).

According to the 2011 census, Cwmbach has a population of 4,283.Prior to the industrial revolution, Cwmbach consisted of a number of farms and homesteads; in the mid-19th century it became a significant coal mining community.

Dillington Carr

Dillington Carr is a 55-hectare (140-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest north of Dereham in Norfolk.This valley in a tributary of the River Wensum has extensive irrigation reservoirs and areas of carr woodland. An outstanding variety of birds breed on the site, including gadwalls, great crested grebe and tufted ducks on the reservoirs and barn owls, lesser spotted woodpeckers and willow tit in the woodland.The site is private land with no public access.

List of birds of Ireland

This is a list of the bird species recorded in Ireland. The avifauna of Ireland include a total of 478 species as of late 2015 according to the Irish Rare Birds Committee (IRBC). An additional 17 species have been added from Bird Checklists of the World.Of these 495 species, 281 are rare or accidental and three have been introduced by humans. One has apparently been extirpated, one is extinct, and one is probably extinct. The list also includes four entries of birds that have been accepted without being identified to species. The list does not include species placed in "Category D" by the IBRC. These are species where there is doubt as to whether they have occurred in a wild state (Category D1), they have arrived by human assistance such as on board a ship (D2), they have only been recorded dead on the tideline (D3), or they are feral species whose populations may not be self-sustaining (D4).

Ireland has a relatively low diversity of breeding birds due to its isolation. Several species such as the tawny owl, Eurasian nuthatch and willow tit which breed in Great Britain have not been recorded. However, there are large colonies of seabirds including important populations of European storm-petrels, northern gannets, and roseate terns. Other notable breeding birds include corn crakes and red-billed choughs. There are no endemic species but there are endemic subspecies of white-throated dipper, coal tit, and Eurasian jay.

Large numbers of wildfowl and waders winter in Ireland, attracted by its mild climate. About half the world population of the Greenland race of greater white-fronted geese spend the winter there. During autumn, many migrating seabirds can be seen off the coasts including several species of skuas, shearwaters, and petrels. Ireland's westerly position means that North American birds are regularly recorded in autumn.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (English and scientific names) follow the conventions of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 2018 edition.The following tags have been used to highlight several categories of occurrence; the tags are from Bird Checklists of the World.

(A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in Ireland

(I) Introduced - a species introduced to Ireland as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions

Marsh tit

The marsh tit (Poecile palustris) is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae and genus Poecile, closely related to the willow, Père David's and Songar tits. It is small (around 12 cm long and weighing 12 g) with a black crown and nape, pale cheeks, brown back and greyish-brown wings and tail. Between 8 and 11 subspecies are recognised. This bird's close resemblance to the willow tit can cause identification problems, especially in the United Kingdom where the local subspecies of the two are very similar (there, they were not recognised as separate species until 1897).

Globally, the marsh tit is classified as Least Concern, although there is evidence of a decline in numbers (in the UK, numbers have dropped by more than 50% since the 1970s, for example). It can be found throughout temperate Europe and northern Asia and, despite its name, it occurs in a range of habitats including dry woodland. The marsh tit is omnivorous; its food includes caterpillars, spiders and seeds. It nests in tree holes, choosing existing hollows to enlarge, rather than excavating its own. A clutch of 5–9 eggs is laid.

Monks Wood

Monks Wood is a 157 hectare National Nature Reserve north-west of Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, and a Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I. A slightly larger area of 169.3 hectares is the Monks Wood and The Odd Quarter biological Site of Special Scientific Interest.The site is described by Natural England as one of Britain's most important lowland woods. It is mainly of the wet ash-maple type, with a rich shrub layer which was formerly coppiced. Trees include the rare wild service tree, particularly in The Odd Quarter. There is ground flora typical of ancient woodland, together with woodland rides, ponds, streams and herb-rich grassland. The marsh tits in the wood have been the subject of several studies.There is access to Monks Wood from the road which runs along its southern boundary. The Odd Quarter is private property with no public access.

Monks Wood was the site of an experimental biological research station of The Nature Conservancy from 1961 to 2009.

Moorhen flea

The moorhen flea (Dasypsyllus gallinulae) is a flea originating from South America. It is now a globally widespread. It is a large flea, easily identified because the male has two heavy horn-like spines on one of the genital flaps, and the female has a deep "bite" on the seventh sternite.It is found in bird nests, and is more likely to be found on the bird's body than, say, the chicken flea, which is normally found in the nest. The moorhen flea's many hosts include the common moorhen, Eurasian woodcock, grouse, European robin, goldcrest, willow tit, and Eurasian treecreeper.

My Son, the Celebrity

My Son, the Celebrity is a musical comedy album by Allan Sherman, released in the United States by Warner Bros. in January 1963.

The album was the second of three straight albums by Sherman to reach #1 on the Billboard album charts. It reached #1 on Billboard's Top 150 Best Selling LPs (Monaural) chart for the week ending March 9, 1963. It was released less than three months after My Son, the Folk Singer, which reached #1 on the same chart in December 1962.My Son, the Celebrity followed the same template as My Son, the Folk Singer, mixing comic parodies of popular songs with cultural references and Jewish humor. Lou Busch once again provided orchestration.


Poecile is a genus of birds in the tit family Paridae. It contains 15 species, which are scattered across North America, Europe and Asia; the North American species are the chickadees. In the past, most authorities retained Poecile as a subgenus within the genus Parus, but treatment as a distinct genus, initiated by the American Ornithologists Union, is now widely accepted. This is supported by mtDNA cytochrome b sequence analysis.The genus Poecile was erected by the German naturalist Johann Jakob Kaup in 1829. The type species was subsequently designated as the marsh tit. The name Poecile is from Ancient Greek poikilos "colourful". A related word poikilidos denoted an unidentified small bird. It has traditionally been treated as feminine (giving name endings such as cincta); however, this was not specified by the original genus author Johann Jakob Kaup, and under the ICZN the genus name must therefore be treated by default as masculine, giving name endings such as cinctus.

Red Moor (nature reserve)

Red Moor is a nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), noted for its biological characteristics, near Lanlivery in mid Cornwall, England, UK.


Scratchwood is an extensive, mainly wooded, country park in Mill Hill in the London Borough of Barnet. The 57-hectare site is a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation and together with the neighbouring Moat Mount Open Space. It is a Local Nature Reserve.

Songar tit

The Songar tit (Poecile montanus songarus, formerly Parus songarus) is a passerine bird in the tit family. It is the southern counterpart of the willow tit P. montanus, and is usually included in it as a subspecies.

It breeds in the deciduous mountain forests of southeast Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and northern China.

The 13 cm long Songar tit has a dark brown cap, blackish bib, rich brown upperparts, white cheeks and cinnamon buff underparts. The sexes are similar, but juveniles are somewhat duller.

The most common call is a nasal zee, zee, zee, but the notes of the bird evidently vary considerably

The Songar tit usually excavates its own nesting hole, often in a rotten stump or in a tree, more or less decayed. Most nests examined are cups of felted material, such as fur, hair and wood chips, but feathers are sometimes used. The number of eggs is from five to six, white with small reddish spots or blotches.

They feed on caterpillars, insects and seeds, much like other tits.

Street Heath

Street Heath (grid reference ST464394) is a 12.5 hectare (31.0 acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest 4 km west of Glastonbury in Somerset, notified in 1966. It next to the Glastonbury Canal and Ham Wall nature reserve. Street Heath has itself been designated as a Local Nature Reserve.Street Heath is a nature reserve, managed by Somerset Wildlife Trust, which has outstanding examples of communities that were once common on the Somerset Levels. It possesses a vegetation consisting of wet and dry heath, species-rich bog and carr woodland, with transitions between all these habitats. Rare ferns present include marsh fern (Thelypteris palustris) and royal fern (Osmunda regalis). Old peat workings and rhynes have a wetland community which includes bulrush (Typha latifolia), yellow flag iris (pseudacorus), cyperus-like sedge (Carex pseudocyperus) and lesser bur-reed (Sparganium minimum). Insects recorded include 33 species of butterflies, 200 moths and 12 grasshoppers and crickets, with several notable rarities. Birds breeding in the carr woodland include the local willow tit

Thomas Conrad von Baldenstein

Thomas Conrad von Baldenstein (14 September 1784 – 28 January 1878) was a Swiss naturalist.Conrad von Baldenstein was an ornithologist, entomologist and apiarist. He produced a number of scientific works on the birdlife of the Alps, and was the first to describe the willow tit.

Tit (bird)

The tits, chickadees, and titmice constitute the Paridae, a large family of small passerine birds which occur mainly in the Northern Hemisphere and Africa. Most were formerly classified in the genus Parus.

While commonly referred to as "tits" throughout much of the English-speaking world, these birds are called either "chickadees" (onomatopoeic, derived from their distinctive "chick-a dee dee dee" alarm call) or "titmice" in North America. The name titmouse is recorded from the 14th century, composed of the Old English name for the bird, mase (Proto-Germanic *maison, German Meise), and tit, denoting something small. The former spelling, "titmose", was influenced by mouse in the 16th century. Emigrants to New Zealand presumably identified some of the superficially similar birds of the genus Petroica of the family Petroicidae, the Australian robins, as members of the tit family, giving them the title tomtit, although, in fact, they are not related.

These birds are mainly small, stocky, woodland species with short, stout bills. Some have crests. They range in length from 10 to 22 cm. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects. Many species live around human habitation and come readily to bird feeders for nuts or seed, and learn to take other foods.

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