About The Tufted Titmouse
The 6½-inch Tufted Titmouse is an active and noisy little bird easily recognizable by its trademark call that sounds like a whistled peter-peter-peter. A dominant bird that chases away rival small birds at the feeders, both the male and female Tufted Titmouse look alike with gray upper body and lighter gray or white belly and breasts. The flanks or sides of the Tufted Titmouses body are rust or chestnut-colored. Both sexes have a small crest of gray feathers sticking up their head – a distinctive characteristic of the Tufted Titmouse. Their forehead is black and the area around their eyes is light gray. The black ring surrounding their eyes makes their eyes look somewhat large for tiny birds like them. The Tufted Titmouse has a short but very powerful black bill that it uses to crack open seeds and snail shells.
The Tufted Titmouse is commonly found over most of Northern America and some parts of southern Canada where deciduous and mixed woodland can be found.
The Tufted Titmouse Nesting Preferences
Although the Tufted Titmouse likes to build its nests in swampy and moist deciduous forests, a lot of them have grown accustomed to people and will live in parks and yards in suburban areas. A cavity nester, the Titmouse builds its nest in tree holes using a variety of materials that include dead leaves, moss, bark strips, grass, hair, fur, feathers, string, cloth, and snakeskin.
Breeding normally begins late March or early April after the nest has been completed by both the female and male Titmouse. The female then lays five or six white eggs finely speckled with brown spots which she incubates for 12 to 14 days. The male feeds the female Titmouse from the time they start building the nest until the time the eggs hatch, during which both parents look after their young. As the young birds get older, the female goes out more often to help her partner look for food, covering the nest partially with nesting material. It takes some 15 to 16 days for the young Titmice to fledge although they are not completely independent until after another three weeks. Titmice in the southern range brood twice in one breeding season while those in the northern range brood only once. Sometimes, young Titmice stay with their parents to help them take care of the next brood.
Building a Birdhouse For The Tufted Titmouse
Unlike other cavity nesters or the Great Tit of Europe, the Tufted Titmouse does not like living in nest boxes. They prefer to reside in natural cavities that may either be holes abandoned by woodpeckers or naturally occurring crevices in tree trunks.
There are several reasons why Tufted Titmice do not readily live in birdhouses. For one, birdhouses are normally mounted at a height of about 5 feet for the convenience of the monitor. Tufted Titmice want their nests mounted up high like 32 to 36 feet above the ground. They also do not like to cross open spaces so they may want their birdhouses to be under heavy tree canopy.
Nonetheless, some nest box makers have come up with the following specifications for a Tufted Titmouse House:
- Its entrance hole should be at least 1 1/8 to 1 ¼ wide.
- It should be mounted at least 8.5 feet above the ground.
- It should have a side opening to avoid scaring the female when the nest is opened.
Some nest box makers recommend Violet Green Swallow Houses for the Tufted Titmouse in which case the nest boxs dimensions are 12-1/2high x 6wide x 8-1/2deep.
The Tufted Titmouse Mating Habits
Tufted Titmice mate for life once they have chosen their partner. Unlike the chickadee, the mated pair does not join other larger flocks outside of the breeding season but simply stay in their territory as a pair. Sometimes, an older offspring stays with them along with other young birds to help them raise the coming years brood. Titmice will build nests in various types of trees including elms, maples, oaks, pines, and beech.
The Tufted Titmouse Feeding Preferences
The Tufted Titmouse feeds on seeds and insects although the bulk of its diet is made up of seeds like oak and beech mast, pine seeds and fruit like blueberry, blackberry, mulberry, bayberry, Virginia creeper, and hackberry. Titmice do not eat their food all at once but bury them in crevices on the tree bark or on the ground. They use their powerful bills to crack open hard-shelled nuts and seeds
Although they glean prey from the barks of trees, they also forage on the ground for food. In winter, the Titmice cache the seeds and acorns they collect. They also visit bird feeders where they enjoy an abundance of sunflower seeds.
Interesting Tufted Titmouse Facts
The Tufted Titmouse is a very lively and vivacious bird that is not shy at all to interact with human beings. Scientists claim that these birds are so curious about everything around them that they tend to react to human voices and noise just to find out what these are. They, for instance, travel in twos or threes from their nests to the source of the noise whether this be from humans talking or noise from street workers, drillers, or farmers.
These birds are also known to be so intelligent that they are able to easily enter a trapped nest, get the food inside, then work their way out of the trap with hardly any time lost searching for the exit.