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Coal Tit vs Great Tit: Top 5 Differing Qualities They Carry

Coal Tit versus Great Tit

Last Updated: May 17, 2022

The Great tit and the Coal tit are the most widely spread tit birds found in the northern parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe. These birds have many similarities, including some features and habitats; therefore,e differentiating between the two can be pretty challenging for most folk.

However…

There are several key differences that can help you differentiate between the two. So if you want to confirm if you have seen a coal tit or great tit in your bird feeder, please read on…

Main Difference Between Coal Tit vs. Great Tit

The main difference between coal tit vs. great tit are:

  • Coal tit has a dullish-grey plumage, whereas the great tit has a yellowish and dark green plumage.
  • Coal tit has a maximum length of about 4.5 inches, whereas the great tit has a maximum length of about 5.5 inches.
  • Coal tit weighs about 10 grams, whereas the great tit weighs approximately 18 grams.
  • Coal tits love eating conifer seeds, whereas the great tit is fond of sunflower seeds.
  • Coal tits have a lifespan of about 2 years, whereas the great tits can live for about 3 years.

Great Tit vs. Coal Tit: What Are the Key Differences?

What is a Great Tit?

Great Tit
Great Tit

Despite being the largest of their species, the great tits are small birds found in the United Kingdom. They may be larger than the coal tit, but proving this can be pretty challenging, especially with the tits flitting around and darting in and out of cover. These birds have green wings and backs that appear distinctly blueish, plus a shiny black cap.

They also have a distinctive yellowish chest/breast with a backline running down the middle. Other than the UK, these birds are also native to Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, where they’re regular visitors to the bird feeders.

The great tits are pretty acrobatic and can be found hanging on the underside or side of branches while searching for insects.

Fun Fact: They’re for taking food and flying away before reappearing again to feed on the bird table.

What is a Coal Tit?

Coal Tit
Coal Tit

Coal tits are tiny birds that are usually mistaken for the other tit birds, and this includes the Great and the Blue tits.

The coal tit has white/black wings and a grey back, and in contrast to the great tit’s yellow chest/breast, they have a cream/brown breast.

Generally a woodland bird, this creature is native to the United Kingdom and can be found flitting around bird feeders and bird tables. They can also be seen hopping around garden bushes and hedges; plus, they rarely sit still for a very long time.

Unlike the great tit, the coal tit prefers taking its food to a protected place before feeding.

Other tit birds that resemble the blue tit and great tit are the marsh tit, long-tailed tit, and willow tit. In fact, the marsh tit and willow tit have more similarities than the other tits.

What Is the Difference Between Coal Tit and Great Tit?

Which Is Bigger, Coal Tit or Great Tit?

Coal tits are small birds with a length of between 10 and 11.5 cm, a wingspan of about 19.5 cm, and a weight of about 10 grams. On the other hand, great tits weigh about 18 grams, and their length ranges between 12.5 and 14 cm, with a wingspan of 24 cm.

Which Is Common, Great Tit or Coal Tit?

The coal tits are less common in the United Kingdom, Europe, and Asia than the great tits. These birds have an essential native breeding population across the UK, but the wintering population always visits and spends the colder months in these areas.

There are about 680,000 breeding pairs of coal tits and over 2 million great tits breeding pairs.

These tits can be found in the company of willow tits in the UK all year round, but there are some places in Scotland where you cannot see them. While coal tit loves the woodlands and coniferous woods, the great tit loves natural habitats with coniferous trees.

Great Tit vs. Coal Tit: Other Differences

1. Behavior

Since great tits are bigger, they use their size to frighten and chase other birds away from the feeder. And thanks to their size, they often win most fights at the feeder, while coat tits are a bit hesitant.

It’s believed that the great tit gives their offspring spiders, which are rich in taurine, to help boost their intellectual nature and confidence.

2. Diet  

These birds have a similar diet that is composed of seeds, fruits, nuts, spiders, and insects. But the coal tits love conifer seeds, while the great tits prefer sunflower seeds. Therefore, to attract them to your feeder, you should add these seeds.

Remember: coal tits tend to take their food away to a secluded area and eat it later.

3. Breeding

In March, these tit birds start to breed, but the great tits’ breeding season ends in May, while coal tits end in July. Coal tits can lay a clutch of between 5 to 13 eggs, while the great tits lay 6 to 11 eggs.

4. Conservation Status

In the United Kingdom, the great and coal tits population is classified as green, which means that their population is currently stable. Globally, the IUCN has listed them as Least Concern which means they’re in no danger.

The critical difference between the two is that there is a slight decrease in the coal tit population while that of the great tits has been increasing thanks to the recent range expansion.

There are over 212 million great tits and 54 million coal tits in Europe alone.

5. Call and Song

Generally, both the coal tit and great tit are quite vocal creatures, but the great tit tends to be more vocal than the coal tit.

The great tits produce a repetitive cheerful high-pitched song resembling the “ti-ta ti-ta.”

On the other hand, the coal tit song is a high-pitched call that sounds like a “see-too, see-too song.

Great Tit vs. Coal Tit: What Are the Similarities?

Generally, there are many similarities between these two creatures, including the fact that they belong to the Tit family. These birds also have white feathers behind their eyes and a black crown on their heads. Other similarities include:

  • Their habitats are pretty similar; after all, they love places with lots of trees
  • They are quite noisy in their communication
  • They are social and can congregate with other species outside their breeding seasons

Fun Fact: Wait! There's more of this type of comparative study between two birds. In chaffinch vs bullfinch, the article tackles the two species' habitat, appearance, and behavior. It's a sure-win read for avian enthusiasts!


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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Difference Between Great Tit, Blue Tit, and Coal Tit?

The great tit is the biggest of the three with a black head and white cheeks, while the blue tit is noticeably smaller and has a blue patch on its head with a black stripe. Unlike the blue tit, the coal has the same black head with white cheeks, just like the great tit. The blue tit has a yellow belly with no black stripe.

What Is More Common in the UK, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, or Great Tits?

The most common tit bird in the UK is the Blue tit which has an estimated 3,535,000 breeding pairs. There are over 2 million great tit breeding pairs and 680,000 coal tits breeding pairs. So you can always find the blue tit in the company of the other tit species, and this includes crested tit and bearded tits.

Is a Coal Tit the Same as the Great Tit?

Well, despite the similarities between the two, these tits are pretty different. For example, the great tit is more significant in size than the coal tit. Even though they both have been vocal, they do produce different sounds and feed on other meals.


Conclusion

The tit birds are beautiful creatures that bring our bird feeders to life every day; their beautiful colors and song make our days. Unfortunately, these tit birds have very many similarities that make it almost impossible for most bird lovers to differentiate them. Luckily, there are some unique differences that can help you distinguish between the tit birds.

The great tits are more significant than the coal tits, and they feed on sunflower seeds. Great tits use their considerable bodies to fight off most birds, and in most cases, they win. And with the above details, you can differentiate between the two the next time you see a tit bird in your backyard.

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