Tufted Titmouse Year-In-The-Life and Day-In-The-Life

Reading through information from National Geographic, The Cornell Lab or Ornithology’s All About Birds, and Arthur Cleveland Bent’s Life Histories of Familiar North American Birds, I inferred the following yearly and noted the following daily behaviors of the Tufted Titmouse. From The Cornell Lab or Ornithology’s All About Birds, I also collected the following images of the bird, its eggs and nest, and geographic location.

Year-In-The-Life

Fall-Winter: Wander in Small Flocks
Early Spring: Begin Courtship
Late April (occasionally Late March): Begin Nest Building
Summer: Remain with Family
Thereafter: Offspring begin process again, parents remain in the same nest

Day-In-The-Life

“Tufted Titmice are acrobatic foragers, if a bit slower and more methodical than chickadees. They often flock with chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers and are regular visitors to feeders, where they are assertive over smaller birds. Their flight tends to be fluttery but level rather than undulating.”

“Tufted Titmice flit from branch to branch of the forest canopy looking for food, often in the company of other species including nuthatches, chickadees, kinglets, and woodpeckers. When they find large seeds, such as the sunflower seeds they take from bird feeders, titmice typically hold the seed with their feet and hammer it open with their beaks. In fall and winter they often hoard these 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.”

“after the breeding season it spends a lot of time in small foraging parties that typically consist of parents and their offspring

“Tufted Titmice eat mainly insects in the summer, including caterpillars, beetles, ants and wasps, stink bugs, and treehoppers, as well as spiders and snails. Tufted Titmice also eat seeds, nuts, and berries, including acorns and beech nuts. Experiments with Tufted Titmice indicate they always choose the largest seeds they can when foraging.” 

Titmice build cup-shaped nests inside the nest cavity using damp leaves, moss and grasses, and bark strips. They line this cup with soft materials such as hair, fur, wool, and cotton, sometimes plucking hairs directly from living mammals. Naturalists examining old nests have identified raccoon, opossum, dog, fox squirrel, red squirrel, rabbit, horse, cow, cat, mouse, woodchuck, and even human hair in titmouse nests. Nest construction takes 6 to 11 days.”

“Tufted Titmice nest in cavities but aren’t able to excavate them on their own. They use natural holes and old nest holes made by several woodpecker species, including large species such as Pileated Woodpecker and Northern Flicker. Additionally, Tufted Titmice also nest in artificial structures including nest boxes, fenceposts, and metal pipes.”

Tufted Titmouse Research 01

Tufted Titmouse Research 02

Tufted Titmouse Research 03

Tufted Titmouse Research 05

Tufted Titmouse Research 04

Tufted Titmouse Research 06

Additional Notes

Appearance, Behavior, Diet

“active and noisy”
“after the breeding season it spends a lot of time in small foraging parties that typically consist of parents and their offspring”
“The large black eyes, small, round bill, and brushy crest gives these birds a quiet but eager expression that matches the way they flit through canopies, hang from twig-ends, and drop in to bird feeders. When a titmouse finds a large seed, you’ll see it carry the prize to a perch and crack it with sharp whacks of its stout bill.”
“Tufted Titmice are acrobatic foragers, if a bit slower and more methodical than chickadees. They often flock with chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers and are regular visitors to feeders, where they are assertive over smaller birds. Their flight tends to be fluttery but level rather than undulating.”
“Tufted Titmice are also common visitors at feeders and can be found in backyards, parks, and orchards.”
“Tufted Titmice flit from branch to branch of the forest canopy looking for food, often in the company of other species including nuthatches, chickadees, kinglets, and woodpeckers. When they find large seeds, such as the sunflower seeds they take from bird feeders, titmice typically hold the seed with their feet and hammer it open with their beaks. In fall and winter they often hoard these 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.”
“Tufted Titmice eat mainly insects in the summer, including caterpillars, beetles, ants and wasps, stink bugs, and treehoppers, as well as spiders and snails. Tufted Titmice also eat seeds, nuts, and berries, including acorns and beech nuts. Experiments with Tufted Titmice indicate they always choose the largest seeds they can when foraging.”
“After wandering about all through fall and winter in small flocks by themselves, or mixed with other species, they begin their courtship activities early in spring and prepare to separate into pairs.”
“Dr. Dickey tells me that in several nests that he watched the period of incubation proved to be “exactly 12 days” and he says that young remain in the cavity 15 or 16 days.”
“When ten days old, the young were well feathered and closely resembled the adults, but they remained in the nest five days more.”
“Both sexes help to feed the young for some time after they leave the nest, and both young and old travel about together in a family party during summer, until they all join the mixed parties of their own and other species that roam the woods during fall and winter.”
“In the fall they appear in small groups, which, as far as they can be counted, vary from two to at least six.”
“In winter small groups suggesting family units occupy very definite and limited areas, never overlapping.”
“Tufted titmice are practically permanent residents in even the more northern portions of their range, being regularly found in winter as far north as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Illinois.”
“The tufted titmouse is quick and active in all its movements, flitting upward among the branches or gliding down between them, but it seldom indulges in long flights.”

Call

“Call: a harsh, scolding zhee zhee zhee. Song: a loud, whistled peto peto peto or wheedle wheedle wheedle, often repeated monotonously”
“The Tufted Titmouse’s song is a fast-repeated, clear whistle: peter-peter-peter. The birds repeat this up to 11 times in succession or up to 35 songs delivered per minute. Females occasionally sing a quieter version of the song.”
“Titmouse calls are nasal and mechanical. A scratchy, chickadee-like tsee-day-day-day is the most common. Tufted Titmice also give fussy, scolding call notes and, when predators are sighted, a harsh distress call that warns other titmice of the danger.”

Nest

“The tufted titmouse frequents well-vegetated urban and suburban areas, willingly uses nest boxes, and regularly visits bird feeders”
“Tufted Titmice often line the inner cup of their nest with hair, sometimes plucked directly from living animals. The list of hair types identified from old nests includes raccoons, opossums, mice, woodchucks, squirrels, rabbits, livestock, pets, and even humans.”
“Titmice build cup-shaped nests inside the nest cavity using damp leaves, moss and grasses, and bark strips. They line this cup with soft materials such as hair, fur, wool, and cotton, sometimes plucking hairs directly from living mammals. Naturalists examining old nests have identified raccoon, opossum, dog, fox squirrel, red squirrel, rabbit, horse, cow, cat, mouse, woodchuck, and even human hair in titmouse nests. Nest construction takes 6 to 11 days.”
“Tufted Titmice nest in cavities but aren’t able to excavate them on their own. They use natural holes and old nest holes made by several woodpecker species, including large species such as Pileated Woodpecker and Northern Flicker. Additionally, Tufted Titmice also nest in artificial structures including nest boxes, fenceposts, and metal pipes.”
“Nests are found at both low and high elevations; they range from 3 feet up to as many as 85 or 90 feet. They will continue to use the identical cavity for years, if unmolested.”
“Nest building begins late in April, although birds are seen to carry odd leaves and trash into holes even as early as late in March. They begin by carrying in strips of bark and dead deciduous leaves; those of white oak and maple are common. Then they add sprays of green moss and dry grass, and round out the interior with pads of hair from cattle, rabbit, deer mouse, and others, and bits of rags, strings, or cloth.”
“Four to eight eggs may be found in the nest of the tufted titmouse, but oftener there are either five or six.”
“The ground color is usually pure white, but often creamy white, or rarely pale “cream color.” They are generally more or less evenly speckled all over the entire surface with very small spots or fine dots; often these markings are thickest at the larger end, where they are sometimes concentrated into a wreath; rarely this concentration is at the small end. The markings are in various browns, “hazel,” “cinnamon-rufous,” “vinaceous-rufous,” “burnt sienna,” or “chestnut”; some eggs have a few underlying shell markings of “lilac-gray” or “drab-gray.””

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