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A Gardeners Friend – The Great Tit

Often misidentified as a Blue Tit or Coal Tit; one resident bird species, always welcome in our gardens here in Ireland, is the Great Tit, latter one of our top-20 most widespread of garden birds.

This shy, often non easily trusting little residents, is welcomed by gardeners since it lives on a diet of mainly insects, seeds and nuts. By using a peanut feeders during the winter months and food scraps on a bird table, this black-headed and largest of the tit family, will remain a constant visitor.

Word of warning, especially regarding the use of peanuts, fat and bread at nesting time, since these foods can be harmful when adult birds are feed their young. If you must put out peanuts in Spring and Summer, only do so in tight mesh feeders that will not allow sizeable pieces of peanuts to be removed, thus avoiding the risk of baby chicks choking.

The Great Tit is easily identified with its striking black head and large white cheek patches. Also a distinct black band can be easily spotted runs down the centre of its bright yellow breast. When perched viewers can observe a distinct white bar on both wings. Its bill is pointed but nevertheless stout for its size, while it stands on legs which appear bluish-grey in colour.

Its typical chirp, sounds like “teacher, teacher” and or ” tew, tew tew” with often repetitive variations.

The Great Tit breeds throughout Eire and will nest in cavities in trees or stone walls and are known to choose unusual nesting sites such as pipes or even letterboxes. Where silence prevails, it will readily use man manufactured nest-boxes.

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