The Ashy tit is a small bird, the adults just 15 cm in length, and is not very common within its chosen range. To come across one as it hops through the dense foliage of a tree, seeking the odd morsel is therefore always a treat. It is near-endemic to the southern Africa region (its range spills over into part of southern Angola), where is prefers the drier western side of the region, being found in the semi-arid acacia woodlands, especially those along dry watercourses. Indeed, its preference for areas in which the acacia predominates is reflected the name by which it was known previously, the Acacia grey tit.
An attractive little bird, the Ashy tit has a grey body, with a black cap reaching down to its eyes and a black bib, with a broad strip of white on its cheeks separating the two areas of black. Its eyes are dark brown, its bill black and legs and feet are grey. The males and females are similar in both plumage and size.
Usually found in pairs or small groups, the Ashy tit is often seen in mixed bird parties as it feeds, mainly eating insects such as beetles, ants and flies, as well as spiders, fruit and seeds.
The call of this little bird is a liquid tutututututu-tuwee-tuwee.
The Ashy tit is monogamous and often nests in natural tree cavities or in the old nests of woodpeckers and barbets. The female lays a clutch of three to six white eggs, that may be speckled with red, and that hatch after an incubation period of about 15 days.
The scientific binomial for the Ashy tit is Parus cinerascens; Parus from the Latin for a titmouse, and cinerascens from the Latin for ashen. Thus we have an ashen titmouse, which is as close to the English name as you can get. The name “Titmouse” seems to have persisted in North America for the birds in this general family, while the shorter “tit” seems to have become more common in the rest of the English speaking world.