Coal Tit

The Coal Tit, Parus ater, is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is a widespread and common resident breeder throughout Europe and northern Asia. It is resident, and most birds do not migrate.

The Coal Tit is 4 to 4.5 inches in length, and has a distinctive large white nape spot on its black head. The head, throat and neck of the adult are glossy blue-black, setting off the white on the nape and sides of the face. The white tips of the coverts show as a double wing bar. The underparts are white shading through beige to reddish-brown on the flanks. The bill is black and the legs lead-colored. The young bird is duller than the adult, the black head having no sheen, and the white of the nape and cheeks is tinged with yellow.

Its food is similar to that of the other Tits. It is keen on beech mast, picks out the seeds from larch and fir cones, and joins Redpolls and Siskins in birches and alders. A favorite nesting site is a hole in a rotting tree-stump, often near the ground, and the nest is deep within the hole. They also use holes in the ground, cracks between the stones in walls, old nests of other birds and squirrel burrows. Seven to eleven red spotted white eggs are laid in May.

There are a number of subspecies:

  • The British race, (P. a. britannicus).
  • The North African race, (P. a. ledouci).
  • The Cypriot, (P. a. cypriotes).