Some species of garden bird cause us great concern due to their rapidly reducing numbers. Sometimes this is due to disease, but more recently, changes in farming practice seem to be a contributing factor in declining bird populations.

I wondered if great tits are in decline because they seem to be one of the most infrequent visitors to my feeders.

I am pleased to report that great tits have green conservation status in the UK. That means that they belong in the least critical group of birds and should be sighted regularly within their habitat.

Are Great Tits Protected

The Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, is the primary piece of legislation that protects all animals, plants, and habitats.

It includes every resident garden bird or visitor in Europe.

All birds, including the great tit are included, without exception. The law ensures that birds, their eggs, and their nests are protected at all times. Anyone who wilfully harms, steals, or destroys a bird’s habitat is punishable by a large fine.

Why do Great Tits Thrive

Great tits are intelligent birds that have learned to adapt and overcome many situations.

Remember waking up and finding the lid of your glass milk bottles had been pecked away?

That was very likely to have been the great tits.

They are also clever enough to use pine needles as a kind of gouging tool to get the larvae from holes that their beaks just can’t reach.

If ever there was a bird meant for The Krypton Factor, it is the great tit!

They are the largest of the tit family and during winter they have no issue in leaving the safety their woodland habitat to hunt for food. Gardens become their hunting ground; they can happily munch their way through almost half of their body weight in sunflower hearts.

Great tits and blue tits flock together during winter, happily coexisting as they forage along the ground for food. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t load your feeders with high-protein food for them; you should. It is a delight watching the acrobatic tits hanging upside down from feeders.

Final thoughts

Although great tits aren’t in decline at the moment, that doesn’t mean we should forget about them. We must keep our bird tables and feeders topped up all year round as once the temperature drops, they head to gardens to supplement their diet.

If you think we need a plentiful supply of sunflower seeds to keep the UK population of 2.5 breeding pairs happy, spare a thought for Germany. There are approximately 8 million pairs , all of whom scour gardens for food in the winter.