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A photo of a Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)
Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

Baeolophus bicolor

The Tufted Titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor, is a small, charismatic songbird of North America, belonging to the tit and chickadee family, Paridae. It is easily recognized by its grey upper body, white front, and rust-colored flanks. A distinctive black forehead and a tufted grey crest adorn its head, adding to its spirited appearance.

Identification Tips

Adult Tufted Titmice measure between 5.5 to 6.3 inches in length, with a wingspan ranging from 7.9 to 10.2 inches, and weigh between 0.6 to 0.9 ounces. Males are generally larger than females. Juveniles may be identified by their less pronounced black forehead, which can lead to confusion with the Oak Titmouse in areas where their ranges do not overlap.

Habitat

This species thrives in a variety of wooded environments, including deciduous and mixed forests, as well as human-altered landscapes such as gardens, parks, and shrublands.

Distribution

Originally native to the Ohio and Mississippi River basins, the Tufted Titmouse has expanded its range due to factors such as the provision of bird feeders. It is now found across the United States and into parts of Ontario and Quebec in Canada. This bird is non-migratory, remaining in its territory year-round.

Behaviour

The Tufted Titmouse is an active forager, often seen gathering food from the ground and tree branches. It consumes a varied diet of berries, nuts, seeds, small fruits, insects, and other invertebrates, with caterpillars being a significant component during the summer months. It is known to visit bird feeders, typically grabbing a seed and retreating to cover to eat. This bird exhibits a notable curiosity towards humans and may investigate human structures in search of prey.

Song & Calls

The song of the Tufted Titmouse is a clear, whistled "peter-peter-peter," which can vary in up to 20 notable ways. They are vocal birds, often responding to the sounds of agitation in other birds and forming mixed-species foraging flocks.

Breeding

Nesting occurs in tree cavities, including natural holes, old woodpecker nests, or human-made nest boxes. Nests are lined with soft materials, and occasionally, snake skin sheds are used as a deterrent to predators. Eggs are white or cream with brownish or purplish spots, and the clutch size averages five to seven eggs. Offspring may stay with their parents through the winter and sometimes assist in raising the next year's brood.

Similar Species

The Black-crested Titmouse, Baeolophus atricristatus, was once considered a subspecies but is now recognized as a separate species. Hybridization between the two occurs but is limited due to genetic differences.

Diet and Feeding

The Tufted Titmouse's diet is diverse, including berries, nuts, seeds, insects, and other small invertebrates. It is a common visitor to bird feeders, where it exhibits a pattern of taking a seed and flying to cover to consume it.

Conservation Status

The Tufted Titmouse has experienced a population increase of more than 1.5% per year from 1966 to 2015 in the northeastern U.S. The current breeding population is estimated at around 8 million individuals, and the species is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN.

Tufted Titmouse Sounds

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A photo of a Black-crested Titmouse (Baeolophus atricristatus)

Black-crested Titmouse

Baeolophus atricristatus
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