Blue tits are the cause of great delight in my garden, particularly amongst the little people that come to visit. Other than the robin, they are the most instantly recognisable songbird due to their amazing colouring. They are the only member of all the British tit family to feature any blue in their plumage.

This makes them easy to spot, particularly in the winter when many of the trees and bushes are barren.

And I have spotted them, with great regularity. This made me wonder, do blue tits migrate at all, do they partially migrate or, like other species, are they sedentary birds that choose to stay in the UK and survive winter.

Blue tits are mostly sedentary birds choosing to remain very close to where they hatched, even through the winter. They form flocks and hunts woodland, parks, and gardens for food.

A small percentage of blue tits choose to head to the south or east coast in the winter, there they join some Northern European birds that prefer our winter climate to their own.

Where do Blue Tits go in Winter?

Blue tits are one of the most frequent garden visitors, and if they have built their nests in your trees or bird boxes, then you will probably see members of the same family year-round.

Blue tits live most of their lives close to where they were born. Even during a harsh winter when they search for food and somewhere warm to roost, they won’t ever go further than 20km from where they hatched. Those blue tits that don’t migrate need safe places to shelter from the cold.

During the winter, they seek shelter and might use the boxes vacated by other birds. This is more prevalent overnight when temperatures drop significantly.

Blue tits have large clutches, usually between 8-12 eggs, sometimes as many as 16.

As more than 50% of fledgelings don’t survive their first year, it explains why they have so many young.

It is thought the high mortality rate is due to starvation, most probably during the winter months when nutritious food is harder to come by.

Which blue tits migrate

How long is a piece of string? There is no defining way of knowing which birds will head south. It is a very small proportion of the blue tit population, less than 2% usually.

Researchers have found that birds that migrate one year, may not do so the nest. Each individual appears to decide each year anew.

Results of studies seem to think that is less about harsh weather conditions, instead of more about food availability and environmental conditions.

Final thoughts…

Now that we know the answer to do blue tits migrate, as bird lovers, we should make the winter as easy as possible for the majority of the population that remains resident.

Leave bird boxes up throughout the winter gives them a warm and safe place to roost overnight.  Brave the cold and wet to keep your feeders well-stocked with high-fat, energy-packed suet, peanuts, and black sunflower seeds. Fresh food is vital to give blue tits a fighting chance of surviving the winter.