The coal tit (Periparus ater) is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is a widespread and common resident breeder throughout temperate to subtropical Eurasia and northern Africa. The black-crested tit is now usually included in this species.
The coal tit is 10–11.5 cm in length, and has a distinctive large white nape spot on its black head. The head, throat and neck of the adult are glossy blue-black, setting off the off-white sides of the face (tinged grey to yellow depending on subspecies) and the brilliant white nape; the white tips of the wing coverts appear as two wingbars. The underparts are whitish shading through buff to rufous on the flanks. The bill is black, the legs lead-coloured, and irides dark brown.
The young birds are duller than the adults, lacking gloss on the black head, and with the white of nape and cheeks tinged with yellow.
While searching for food, coal tit flocks keep contact with incessant short dee or see-see calls. The species’ song – if “song” it can be called – is a strident if-he, if-he, if-he, heard most frequently from January to June, but also in autumn. One variant of this song ends with a sharp ichi. North African birds also have a currr call similar to that of the European crested tit (Lophophanes cristatus) which is not found in Africa.