Tufted Titmouse

Common Name: Tufted Titmouse

Class:  Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Paridae

Genus: Baeolophus

Species: Baeolophus bicolor

photo Ivan Andrijevic

 

Taxonomy/Description

 

As their name suggests, Tufted Titmice have a mouse grey color to their back, wings, and head.  On their head, they have a crest that is displayed when excited.  They have small faces with white cheeks, large black eyes, and adults have black foreheads.  Their chests and bellies are also white, and their flanks show a rusty tint. 

 

photo Ivan Andrijevic

 

Habitat/Diet

 

Tufted Titmice are year round inhabitants of the eastern half of the United States and their range is slowly growing northward.  They inhabit mostly deciduous forests where there are many different species of trees with dense canopies.  They nest in tree cavities, usually those made by woodpeckers.  Their diet consists of many different types of seeds and insects.  The majority of their food includes caterpillars, bees, wasps, and beetles. 

 

photo Ivan Andrijevic

 

Behavior/Reproduction

 

Tufted Titmice form monogamous pairs, usually for over one year, but can often be seen in groups of three.  This is because many times, young birds will stay with one or both of their parents through the winter and for the next breeding season to help care for siblings.  During the breeding season, and beginning when a pair begins looking for a nesting site, the male feeds the female.  This continues until incubation is over.  Females will lay as many as nine eggs, with an average of five to six.  The nestlings are usually ready to leave after the 15th day.  During winter, very small flocks are formed, usually between two to five birds.  Each flock usually consists of at least one pair that had previously mated, and sometimes their offspring from that season as well.  Each flock always has as many or more males compared to females.  Tufted Titmice are loyal to their flocks and flocks therefore become territorial.  Any intruders are chased away, most often by the male(s) of the flock.

 

photo Ivan Andrijevic

 

Where to see them in WNY

 

It is said that Tufted Titmice will spend the summer foraging higher in trees than in fall, and also are more likely to be on the outside of the branch.  They do however spend much of their time foraging on the ground as well.  They are active birds, so you will probably spot them as they jump from limb to limb, tree to tree, and if they are on the ground, hopping around the forest floor.  Titmice will also come to feeders to eat seed. 

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