smb74's picture

Marsh Tit ?

Observed: 20th March 2011 By: smb74
S159 Neighbourhood Nature - course complete
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Marsh Tit2
Marsh Tit4

Small bird sitting in forsythia bush. Scientific name has been added although there were four to chose from. However, the one I have chosen, although not the same as my bird book is the most similar.

Species interactions

No interactions present.


Syrphus's picture

Latin names can be confusing!

Latin names can be confusing! There is a book of rules governing 'Zoological Nomenclature' (and another for the botanists with different rules) so that it does not get out of hand, but changes are allowed (or even required) in certain situations. I was brought up on Parus for the tits and Larus for the gulls, but for a variety of reasons these genera have been split. I am enough of an old dog to avoid some new tricks - these included! If you use the old names you are not wrong, and you will be understood a lot more widely as well.



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DavidHowdon's picture

Four parts

Although really the scientific name should consist of 4 (or 5 depending on how you interpret brackets and parentheses) parts.

The two parts that MapMate displays here
Genus and Species
plus an Author (the person who first described the species with a given specific name) and Year (the year on which said description was published).

Various combinations of brackets around the author-date element indicate things such as whether the species was originally described in a different Genus to the one it is now in.

That lets you uniquely identify what is being referred to.

Not sure there are any confusion species in birds but in the lepidoptera both Dark Spectacle has been referred to as Abrostola triplasia which is not the specific name of Spectacle, with Dark Spectacle rightly being A. trigemina.

David Howdon

Syrphus's picture

There is no doubt that this

There is no doubt that this is not a Coal Tit, which always has a much bigger and less neat bib, as well as a large white patch on the nape and it lacks this uniform brown back and wings.

If you look at other postings for Marsh and Willow Tits, you will see some useful comments on distinguishing them in a picture (it is far easier if you hear them call). One reliable feature is a pale mark on the bill of Marsh Tit, which this one seems to show clearly, though your picture does not show a very convincing contrast on the cheeks. I tend towards MT as the right ID.

A useful guide is at



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ophrys's picture

Marsh Tit

I think that the angle at which this bird is taken does not help things, but it shows more signs of Marsh than Willow.

The beak appears to show a white edge to the upper cutting edge = Marsh. The flanks are pale = Marsh. The cap seems not to stretch far down nape = Marsh.

However (!), the secondaries do seem to form a very pale panel, paler than the mantle = Willow.

These are not easy at all, in spite of what some people and some internet sites will suggest. As already stated, voice will do it pretty easily (though some notes are shared!).

The beak is the most consistent feature used, these days, to separate the two, and that does seem clearly to suggest a Marsh Tit (Willow having no white margin to the cutting edge).

On balance, a Marsh Tit.

Importantly, the BTO Winter Atlas reports for your area round Newport has no records of Willow Tit at all.


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smb74's picture

Thanks everyone for your

Thanks everyone for your comments. I think the concensus is that it is more likely to be Marsh than a Willow Tit.