The fact that both of these songbirds have got ‘tit’ in their name makes me think that they’re part of the same family, but so are my children and they’re as different as chalk and cheese!

When researching if great tits are the same as blue tits, I hoped to find out all of their similarities, but more interestingly, just how much 2 birds from the same species differ.

They are both from the same parus (tit family)genus, the great and blue tit may have slightly similar appearances but that’s where it ends. They are quite different birds with opposing behaviours, and, are quite partial to a little tussle to bag the best feeding or perching spot.

Do great tits and blue tits look the same

Maybe if you spot either bird alone, for a second or two you might be unsure which bird you’ve seen. But, there are plenty of distinctions between the two to make them recognisable.

The blue tit is smaller, they only weigh in at around 10g. With their bright yellow breast and vivid blue wings, they are easy to spot. But what gives the game away for me is the black stripe across their eyes, they remind me of Zorro! It stands out on their white faces beneath their blue caps.

Great tits are much larger, at 16g they are more than half of the blue tit’s bodyweight again. Of course, this is only really evident if you’re lucky enough to see the two birds together.

The great tit has similar plumage to the blue tit, but the blue is nowhere to be seen. Instead, the wings are a quite muted greenish grey shade.

Their head is almost entirely black, except for the white cheeks.

Both male and female great tits have a black stripe running from top to bottom of their breast. On the female is narrow and feint, the male’s stripe is thicker and more obvious.

The differing behaviours of great tits and blue tits

If you have ever had the fortune to watch blue tits through binoculars, you might think they’re frenetic little characters, always in a rush to get somewhere.

This is usually the case as they are always on the lookout for food.

They can hang from garden feeders, particularly the peanut ones, at the most peculiar angles, just to reach the last nut.

During the winter this behaviour continues, but what looks like aerobatics is actually them searching for food that is harder to come by as temperatures drop.

The great tit, on the other hand, is much more sedate. Instead of darting about for food in the air, they are more often found in the ground feeders, just like the finches.

When winter strikes, great tits spend copious amounts of time hunting the ground for fallen berries and seeds, and their favourite foods, nuts.

Do blue tits and great tits sound the same

I find the song of the blue tit one of the more recognisable of all the calls I hear in my garden.

Their sound consists of loud and high pitched repetitive trilling noises.

When they are fearful of a predator, they make drilling type, rattling noises.

The best way to describe their song is

‘tsee-tsee-tsee’  followed by ‘chu-chu-chu’

The song of the great tit is a more mechanical sound, with repetitive 2 syllable noise.

‘pit’, ‘spick’, and ‘chit’ are regularly heard

but the most familiar call of the great tit is

‘teacher-teacher’

The great tit has a choice of more than 70 songs to choose from, their vocabulary is extensive. They choose which to use depending on the situation they find themselves in.

Final thoughts…

Both great tits and blue tits are cavity nesters that are part of the tit family. That is almost where the similarities end.

They behave, feed, look, and sound differently.

So, no, great tits are not the same as blue tits, however, from August to March if you’re in woodland, you might see them both as part of a big flock that winter together.

When they’re not squabbling over food, that is.