Thursday, January 15, 2009
On cold winter days I enjoy watching the bird feeder outside my office window. It is a platform feeder hung in the boughs of a huge rhododendron. The Tufted Titmouse is the busiest species at the feeder, coming and going and chirping at the others.
A common bird of forest and feeders in the eastern United States, the Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicoloris) often seen foraging in groups with other birds. It is quick to scold predators and is easily attracted to the mobbing calls of other species.
It is a small gray songbird with a short tuft on its head, black eyes and prominent pale gray face. The underbelly has a rosy hue. Both sexes look alike.
Their song sounds like a loud, whistled "peter, peter, peter, peter" or a scratchy, chickadee-like "tsee-day-day-day." They also sing fussy scolding notes.
Beginning in the 1940s, the Tufted Titmouse began expanding its range northward. Previous to that it was found only as far north as Iowa, Ohio, southern Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Explanations offered for the expansion include global warming, the maturation of abandoned farmlands to forest, and increased number of winter bird feeders.
Unlike many chickadees, Tufted Titmouse pairs do not join larger flocks outside of the breeding season. Instead, most remain on the territory as a pair. Frequently one of their young from that year remains with them, and occasionally other juveniles from other places will join them. Rarely a young titmouse remains with its parents into the breeding season and will help them raise the next year's brood
The information above is from Cornell Lab of Ornithology