British wildlife recordings
Parus ater : Coal Tit - Paridae
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Bagshot, Surrey: OS Grid Reference(491500,163500)
Williams, Aubrey John
Coal Tit, Parus ater
The call of the coal tit recorded at Bagshot, Surrey. Although the coal tit is a regular and welcome feature in parks and gardens outside the breeding season, when it searches for food in mixed-species flocks, its chief habitat is that of conifer woods or plantations. Despite being the same size as the blue tit, it tends to be socially subordinate when in gardens and feeds quickly and in short bursts before being repelled by more aggressive species. During the breeding season, coal tits forage for larval insects, caterpillars, and spiders amongst the leaves and conifer needles. The male has a loud, repetitive double-note song which is very variable. The nest is usually located in a tree-hole or crevice and usually only one brood of chicks is reared each year. Even though British coal tits do locally disperse after the breeding season, they rarely move any great distance from their natal site. There are 610,000 territories in Britain and this is boosted to 4 million coal tits during the winter as a result of influxes from the Continent. Populations tend to fluctuate from year to year because their fortunes are often intricately linked to weather conditions, recently, coal tits have benefited from a run of mild winters.