This aptly-named little bird is a highly entertaining visitor to gardens, where it will nearly always be in a flock of the same species. They are very active and continually keep in contact with each other with twittering calls interspersed with higher notes. The Long-tailed Tit cannot be mistaken for any other bird, and along with the obvious and disproportionately long tail, the white, pink and black plumage makes them easy to identify. They are also relatively easy to attract to garden feeding stations, and especially like to cling onto mesh peanut feeders and suet cages – often cramming themselves onto the feeder in what appears to be impossibly large numbers for the available space.

What sound does a Long-tailed Tit make?

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Video footage of Long-tailed Tits

Long-tailed Tit nesting and breeding habits

The Long-tailed Tit’s nest is a true wonder of nature. It is constructed from moss and bound together with hair and spiders’ webs, to form a dome-shaped structure which is entirely enclosed other than for the entrance hole. It is camouflaged with lichen, and the inside lined with often hundreds of feathers. Both male and female birds build the elaborate nest, and because it can take up to three weeks to construct, work often starts as early as late February in the south of England (a little later further north). The location of the nest is in a dense bush, hedge or even high up in a tree if the foliage is thick enough. The clutch size of around 8-12 eggs (though can be up to 15) is exceptionally large for any bird, but the high number is required because of the species’ high mortality rate in harsh winters.

Long-tailed Tit history and population trends

The species is doing fairly well and currently enjoys green status. However, a succession of very harsh winters has a dramatic effect on population numbers.

Behaviour traits of Long-tailed Tits

Long-tailed Tits are highly gregarious and are typically seen in extended family groups of up to 20 birds, though will often flock with other species of tit to form larger feeding groups in the winter months. They are highly dexterous and agile, and this, combined with their very sociable nature, means that multiple birds will happily cram onto feeders at all sorts of angles and positions, with their bodies and tails in contact with one another. An especially interesting behaviour in the breeding season is that additional birds will sometimes join the two parents in feeding their large number of young, with these extra helpers perhaps being failed breeders that are related to the parents.

Long-tailed Tit diet and food

Food is mainly small insects, their larvae and small spiders, plus some seeds in the winter. In gardens where food is provided, the species readily feeds on peanuts and suet pellets in mesh feeders, and also loves suet blocks and suet balls.

What should I feed Long-tailed Tits?

We recommend the following products to help attract Long-tailed tits to your garden.

Bird Food

Premium Peanuts
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Super Suet Fat Balls
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Super Suet Fat Balls
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Suet Pellets - Insect Flavour
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(320 reviews)
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Suet Pellets - Insect Flavour
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Suet Blocks - Mealworm Flavour
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(134 reviews)
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Suet Blocks - Mealworm Flavour
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(134 reviews)
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Frequently Asked Questions

Where do Long-tailed tit nest?

Long-tailed tits build their nest in hedges, shrubs or trees with dense branches.

What is the best type of bird feeder for a Long-tailed tit?

For peanuts and suet pellets use a steel mesh feeder, and for fat balls and suet blocks use a caged feeder. Note that Long-tailed tits will not take seed from a tube feeder or any other type of feeder.

What can be fed to a Long-tailed tit?

The two main foods for Long-tailed tits are peanuts which must be fed in mesh feeder, and any type of suet product fed from a suitable metal feeder.

Where did Long-tailed tits originate from?

Long-tailed tits are a native species to the UK and across much of Europe, and like all birds have evolved from a common ancestor.

How can you identify a Long-tailed tit?

The long tail is the instant giveaway! The black, cream, white, pink and purple plumage of the Long-tailed tit also helps makes the species unmistakable.