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the web of life in southern Africa

Parus afer (Grey tit, Southern grey tit) 

Piet-tjou-tjou-grysmees [Afrikaans]; Kaapse mees [Dutch]; Mésange petit-deuil [French]; Kapmeise [German]; Chapim-cinzento-meridional [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Paridae

Parus afer (Grey tit, Southern grey tit) Parus afer (Grey tit, Southern grey tit)

Grey tit. [photo Stephen Davis ©]

Grey tit, Murraysburg, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Parus afer (Grey tit, Southern grey tit) 

Grey tit, Steinkopf, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to South Africa, occurring from the Western Cape through the Northern Cape to south-western Namibia. Its range also extends to the Eastern Cape and Free State Province, with an isolated population in Lesotho. It generally favours dry woodland along seasonal rivers, as well as dwarf shrubland, strandveld, renosterveld and farming areas.

Distribution of Grey tit in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


It eats a variety of insects (especially caterpillars), supplemented with fruit. It forages among the foliage of trees, gleaning insects from crevices in twigs and branches and breaking open thorns looking for larvae. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Facultative cooperative breeder, meaning that the breeding pair are occasionally assisted by 1-2 helpers.
  • Both sexes construct the nest, which is a thick platform built of sheep's wool, feathers, grass and other fine material. It is placed in the bottom of a cavity or tree or in an earthen bank, stone wall or even a steel pipe fence post.
  • Egg-laying season is from August-March.
  • It lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 12 days. The male gives her food regularly at the nest.
  • The chicks are fed mainly caterpillars by the both parents and group members, leaving the nest after about 20 days.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.