Monday, February 3, 2014

A Tufted Titmouse Visits

These little birds are less common in my yard than the goldfinches and chickadees.  They come to visit daily, but I've only seen a couple at a time.  Tufted Titmice have the prettiest eyes, which really stand out on their small pale gray faces.  They appear to have mascara on because of the dark coloration around their eyes.  

Tufted Titmice flit from branch to branch of the bare trees in our front yard, often darting to the feeder to snatch a seed.  When they find large seeds, such as sunflower seeds, they typically hold it with their feet and hammer it open with their beaks. In fall and winter they are known to hoard shelled seeds in bark crevices. These acrobatic foragers often hang upside down or sideways as they investigate cones, undersides of branches, and leaf clusters. They sometimes come all the way to the ground to hop around after fallen seeds or insects. Titmice are very vocal birds and are also quick to respond to the sounds of agitation in other birds, coming close to investigate or joining a group of birds mobbing a predator.

From what I've read about them, Tufted Titmouse pairs do not gather into larger flocks outside the breeding season. Instead, most remain on the territory as a pair. Frequently one of their young from that year remains with them, and occasionally other juveniles from other places will join them. Rarely a young titmouse remains with its parents into the breeding season and will help them raise the next year's brood.  Tufted Titmouse are regulars at backyard bird feeders, especially in winter. They prefer sunflower seeds but will eat suet, peanuts, and other seeds as well. They build their nests in cavities, so putting up nest boxes is a good way to attract breeding titmice to your yard.

Video of Tufted Titmouse calling its mate (His song changes at 1:15 on the video and you can clearly hear peter peter peter peter, their known call).


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