British wildlife recordings
Parus palustris : Marsh Tit - Paridae
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Torquay Burial Ground, Devon: OS Grid Reference(291500,65500)
Marsh Tit, Parus palustri
It can be very difficult to separate the Marsh tit and Willow tit by appearance alone. Both species are notoriously difficult to identify properly, particularly from a distance. However the Marsh tit, often found in open woodland, orchards and large parks, exhibits a handsome, glossy black cap, brown upperparts and pale underparts. The Willow tit, by comparison, has a sooty-black cap and pale wing-patches. The Marsh tit's song is a series of high-pitched, repeating notes and 'pitchaweeoo' phrases. When feeding this bird can occur high in tree canopies or low in bushes. Its usual diet consists of insects, seeds, beechmast and berries. Holes in trees and walls are excellent nest sites for this small bird, which starts to pair and breed in April. The female alone incubates five to nine glossy white, lightly speckled eggs. Both sexes help to rear the chicks, which remain dependant on their parents for a further week after leaving the nest. Despite its name, the marsh tit does not have a preference for marsh habitats. It is distributed across England, Wales and southern Scotland. Increased fragmentation of woodland and the resulting lack of nest sites may help to explain the declining numbers of these birds.