The Nature of My Backyard

I love wild birds, flowers, herbs, trees, butterflies, bugs and anything else Mother Nature places in my backyard for me to enjoy! I gladly share them with you.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tufted Titmice

Sweet Little Titmouse Looking Right At Me!
by Grandma Pearl

Tufted Titmice are feisty, territorial, energetic little birds that love to squawk at the top of their lungs when they perceive a possible threat.  At only 6.25 inches, their gray bodies sport a beautiful light orange patch on their underbellies.  Their crests belie their disposition, but are most often pointed straight upwards.
Titmice are very fond of peanuts and peanut butter!
from Grandma Pearl
Small apple chunks, raisins, and grapes are also favorite foods of the tufted titmouse.  If you have a grape arbor, you will attract not only titmice, but many other fruit-loving birds like orioles and grosbeaks.
Tufted Titmouse overseeing its territory from an Aspen tree
from Grandma Pearl
Listen for its distinctive call, which sounds like:  peter, peter, peter, or cheer, cheer, cheer.  It's a clear whistle that resounds through the forest around here, year 'round.  Titmice have pals, and they consist of chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and juncos that share the black oil sunflower feeders.  They also don't mind foraging along the ground for fallen seeds.

Titmice look for spiders and insects on and under the bark of trees, leaves and twigs, and they will even hang upside down to pluck a tasty treat!

Last spring I heard some skittery scratching noises against one of my back windows.  When I investigated, I found a tufted titmouse attacking its reflection repeatedly!  My solution was to cover the window with the top of a sapling that had lots of smaller branches.  This broke up the reflection, and my titmouse was spared an exhaustive defense against an imaginary rival.

Spotted in the northeast all the way to Texas, tufted titmice have several cousins:  Bridled Titmouse lives in the extreme southwest of North America, Oak Titmouse is found only west of the Sierra Nevada, and its call is a rather raucous sissi-chee.
Juniper Titmouse is a kin to the Plain Titmouse and lives in the western desert states of North America; Black-Crested Titmouse  can be found in Texas southward.  

All are small gray birds with crests.  The bridled titmouse was so named for the appearance of a black 'bridle' on its face and neck.
Most of these birds are fairly common, with the exception of the Juniper Titmouse, because of its very narrow southwestern habitat range.

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