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Species Description

Tufted Titmouse

Baeolophus bicolor


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Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Paridae

Description

Light gray overall, with a gray crest, head, back, wings, and tail. White breast and belly. A rust-colored band extends from below the wings to just in front of the tail. The region above the bill is black. The Tufted Titmouse is a small songbird, measuring 17 cm (6.5 in) from tip of bill to tip of tail. The crest on this small bird's head is distinctive.

Life Cycle

Breeding season lasts from early April to early July. The female builds her nest in a natural tree cavity or in a hole excavated by woodpeckers. The nest is often lined with moss, leaves, grass, fur, and snake skin. Many different types of trees are used, including elms, maples, pines, oaks, and beech trees. Nest height averages 10 m (35 ft) above ground. Titmice will also nest in boxes. The female lays 3 - 9 creamy white eggs with brownish-purple spots, which she incubates for 13 days. Nestlings are altricial and do not open their eyes until they are 4 days old. Both parents feed the nestlings. The young leave the nest after 15-16 days, by which time they are fully feathered and look like the adults.

Natural History

During the non-breeding season, the Tufted Titmouse spends most of its time foraging. Moving along the trunk and branches of trees, it searches leaves and bark crevices for insects such as caterpillars, beetles, ants, wasps, and bees, and for spiders and their egg cases. Titmice are often seen picking through suspended clusters of dead leaves. The birds also eat fruit, nuts and various seeds. In the fall and winter they cache hundreds of seeds in crevices in trees. These stored seeds provide a good food source when retrieved during the cold winter. Titmouse habitat includes deciduous woodlands, parklands, and suburban areas. This species is often seen at backyard feeders. It is common for the Titmouse to forage in mixed species flocks with Chickadees, Nuthatches, and small woodpeckers. Predators include hawks, owls, snakes, and cats.

Range

Tufted Titmouse Region Map The Tufted Titmouse occurs year-round throughout Georgia wherever favorable habitat is present. The species also ranges throughout the eastern half of the United States.

Conservation Status

This species is common in appropriate habitat. However, it may be declining in deforested areas because it needs tree cavities for nesting.

Similar Species

No similar species exists in Georgia. The Plain Titmouse, Parus inornatus, which closely resembles the Tufted Titmouse, occurs in the southwestern United States.