The Tufted titmouse is a tiny songbird that is native to and mostly spotted eastern as well as south-eastern regions of the United States. A member of the genus Baeolophus, this small bird was once believed to be a subspecies of the Black-crested Titmouse. There are more than 8 million individual birds belonging to this species across the world now.
Kingdom : Animalia
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Aves
Order : Passeriformes
Family : Paridae
Genus : Baeolophus
Species : B. bicolor
Baeolophus bicolor is the scientific name for the Tufted titmouse.
The adult birds have a length of around 6 inches. The flanks and plumage in the upper body is markedly gray and the underpart areas are white. The top parts of their heads are covered by a bushy crest. A white lining covers their black eyes. They have got a slightly rounded and small dark gray bill. The legs are pale gray in color.
The Tufted titmouse birds are fond of spending their time in mixed evergreen and deciduous woods that have thick canopies. They can also be seen in orchards, parks, suburban and urban areas.
The bird is native to eastern as well as south-eastern parts of United States. In the west, they are found in locations like Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska and also in many areas around Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, the Carolinas, Virginia, Florida and Georgia.
In the south-eastern regions of United States, the tufted titmouse is found in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama and in many parts of Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the north.
• They tend to move slowly from one branch to another in a forest canopy as they search for food.
• If they come across large seeds, these birds smack them open with their sturdy bills.
• They frequently forage with many other species of birds such as woodpeckers, kinglets, nuthatches and chickadees among others.
• These birds are extremely acrobatic and can hang themselves upside down and sideways while investigating leaf clusters, cones and branches.
• These birds hop on the ground in a slow pace, mainly to catch small insects and pick up the fallen seeds.
• Tufted titmouse birds are quite vocal and frequently reply to sounds that are made by the other species.
• They often work together with other birds to chase off potential predators.
• They prefer to stay in areas with low elevations, but sometimes they can also inhabit the high elevations such as areas above 2000 feet.
Breeding pairs prefer to stay together at all times of the year, and join the other pairs of Tufted titmouse to form a small flock of birds in winter. When the breeding season starts, the pairs separate from the flock and start to establish nesting territories. At the time of courtship, the male bird often brings food for feeding the female. These birds nest in naturally occurring cavities in a tree as well as in abandoned holes created by woodpeckers. Sometimes they also use the next boxes. Their nests are lined with grasses, leaves, bark strips, moss and animal hairs among others.
The female bird lays a clutch of around 3 to 9 (typically 5 to 6) eggs that are somewhat whitish in color with brown or reddish dots. The incubation process continues for about 12 to 14 days. Once the eggs are hatched, the female stays with the little nestlings, and the male brings food to the nest. The nestlings are regularly fed by both the male and the female after a couple of days. Sometimes, the parent birds are also helped by another individual bird from their previous brood. Juveniles leave the nest when they are about 15 to 27 days of age. Unlike some of the other birds, the young birds prefer staying with their parents in the colder months and frequently till next breeding season.
Tufted titmouse sticks to a diet mostly consisting of insects. In summer, these birds love feeding on caterpillars. They also eat wasps, bees, scale insects, beetles, sawfly larvae, spider, true bugs, eggs and snail insect pupae. Sometimes their diet also consists of nuts, berries, small fruits and seeds.
The lifespan of Tufted titmouse in the wild is between 2 and 10 years.
The males tend to produce a fast and repeated whistle sounding like ‘peter-peter-peter.’ They can repeat this around eleven times. The females produce a softer and lighter version of this sound. They can also produce nasal and mechanical calls that sound like ‘tsee-day-day-day’. They produce scolding calls or a harsh distress call in case they see any kind of potential predator.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has classified this bird in ‘Least Concern’ category.
• They are among the birds that most frequently visit the bird-feeders.
• In certain parts of its native areas, the Tufted titmouse hybridizes with Black-crested titmouse.
• Like many of its closest relatives, Tufted titmouse prefers to reserve food for the fall and winter seasons.
• The oldest living Tufted titmouse individual was of 13 years and 3 months. The bird was banded in 1962 in Virginia and then found in 1974 in same state.
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