The nominate race palustris: Black cap and nape with a blue sheen. The black 'bib' below the bill is rather small. The cheeks are white, turning dusky brown on the ear coverts. The upperparts, tail and wings are greyish-brown, with slightly paler fringes to the tertials. The underparts are off-white with a buff or brown tinge strongest on the flanks and undertail coverts. The bill is black and the legs dark grey. Juveniles are very similar to adults, but with a duller black cap and bib, more greyish upperparts and paler underparts. The Marsh Tit weighs 12 g, is 11.5 to 12 cm long and the wingspan is 19 cm.

Habitat and Distribution

It is common in temperate Europe and northern Asia. It occurs from northern Spain north to south-eastern Scotland and east to western Russia, with a broad gap in western Asia and present again in eastern Asia from the Altai Mountains east to northern Japan and northern and western China. This species is sedentary, making short post-breeding movements in most of its range, but in northern Europe some move southward in winter. They prefer oak or beech, though they can occupy wet alder woodland, riverside trees, parks and gardens or orchards.


Mostly spiders and insects are eaten in spring and summer, but seeds - including those of the thistle - nuts and berries are taken in autumn and winter. Beechmast is the preferred food when it can be found.


The nest site is in a hole, usually in a tree but sometimes in a wall or in the ground. Inside the hole, a nest of moss is made and lined with hair and sometimes a few feathers; 20 cm of moss is used in damp holes, but much less in dry ones. Between five and nine white and red-speckled eggs are laid late in April or in May. They are incubated by the female for 14-16 days; incubation begins before the clutch is complete.

Calls and Songs

Like the other tits it has many call notes; most typical is the explosive `pitchou` note, given when agitated, often leading into `pitchou-bee-bee-bee`. Their common song is a typical tit-like, ringing, `schip-schip-schip-schip-ship`.