Menu 

Willow Tit and Marsh Tit Survey

Marsh and Willow Tits Show Their Colours

A study of marsh and willow tits in the Wensum Valley began in 2010. The Norfolk Ornithologists’ Association (NOA), with the help of the Hawk and Owl Trust (HOT), the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, and the Wensum Valley Bird watching Society has launched a colour ringing project for marsh and willow tits.

Willow Tit Photo – Phil Littler | Note: the willow tit has a completely black bill unlike the marsh tit which has a pale yellow/white cutting edge on the bill

These two species are notoriously difficult to separate in the field and were not separated as a species in the UK until 1897. Both have undergone severe population declines nationally in the last 25 years and are red listed (threatened). Recent published evidence shows that it can sometimes be impossible to separate marsh and willow tits by sight and where possible their songs and calls are the most reliable method of separation.

For most birds, ringing is the only other reliable way that can be used to establish the species accurately. This project is a great opportunity to find out more, which can help to protect these two threatened species. Due to the pitfalls of identification, it is more difficult to identify factors contributing to their declines, and both are probably under-recorded.

The NOA has devised a study which will separate the two species and record their movements, longevity and productivity, as well as assessing how successfully the two species are being identified in the field.

The Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, Hawk and Owl Trust and Wensum Valley Bird watching Society, will be working alongside NOA to carry out the surveys to provide the data and help gain a clearer picture on the two species.

Gary Elton | Project Coordinator.

Leave a reply