Blue Tit vs Great Tit: Key Differences Explained

Blue Tit vs Great Tit: Key Differences Explained

There are several similarities between the blue tit and the great tit which can make it difficult to tell the difference. However, if both visit your garden, the differences soon become apparent.

In this article we’ll take a closer look at both of these well known and common members of the tit family. By the end of this article you’ll be able to tell the difference between great tits and blue tits with ease.

What Is The Difference Between A Blue Tit And A Great Tit?

There are several differences between blue tits and great tits which include;

The Size Differences

One of the most visible differences between blue tits and great tits when seen side by side is the size difference. Blue tits rank among the smallest birds resident in the UK and are only slightly larger than the  goldcrest.

Great tits on the other hand, are the largest members of the tit family and are around the same size as a house sparrow.

The Colouration Differences

Another way to tell the difference between blue tits and great tits is in their colouration. Although similar looking from a distance, close up the differences become more obvious.

So let’s look at each bird in turn and find out exactly what separates blue tits from great tits in their colouring.

What Colour Is A Blue Tit?

Female Blue Tit

Blue tits get their name from their vibrant blue wings, tail and crown. They also have yellow underparts and a green back. Blue tits also have a black line running from their beak to the back of their head which runs right through the eye. 

You can often spot these brightly coloured birds flocking together in groups hunting for food.

They need a lot of insects and caterpillars to feed their large brood (up to 14 eggs). And with an estimated 3.5 million breeding pairs in the UK they’re a common sight in many parts of the country.

What Colour Is A Great Tit?

Great Tit

Although the great tit has a similar plumage to the blue tit, they’re easy to tell apart because great tits have a deeper yellow underpart. Plus great tits have a black crown, black throat with a black stripe running down their chest all the way to their tail.

Added to which they exhibit quite rough bullying tactics around bird tables and feeders.

The Difference In Their Faces

We’ve already mentioned the size difference and the colouration differences between great tits and blue tits. But the easiest way to tell the difference between these members of the tit family is to look at the face.

Blue tits have a black line running through their white cheeks that goes right through the eye splitting the white cheek into two distinctive parts. 

Whereas the great tit has a black cap which engulfs the eye with a white cheek below and no black line running through the eye.

The Difference In Their Bird Song

Another great way to tell the difference between blue tits and great tits is by listening to their songs. Blue tits make a trilling sound whereas great tits sound as if they’re saying “teacher, teacher, teacher”.

When you put all of this together it will soon become easy to tell blue tits and great tits apart. Remember, great tits are larger, more likely to be the bullies at the bird table, have a black cap and a black line running all the way from their throat to their tail and sing with a “teacher, teacher, teacher” sound.

Blue tits are smaller and have a blue crown and a black line running through their eye dissecting their white cheek. 

SEE ALSO: Blue Tit Eggs to Chicks: Hatching, Development, and Fledging

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it called a Bluetit?

The blue tit is called a blue tit because of its striking blue colouration on the wings, tail and crown.

Why is it called a great tit?

The great tit gets its name as it is the largest member of the tit family.

How many blue tits are there in the UK?

There are an estimated 3.5 million breeding pairs of blue tits in the UK. However, that number swells to around 15 million during the cold winter months as blue tits from colder parts of Europe migrate to the warmer climate found in the UK.

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