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Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)

Tufted Titmouse

Peter, Peter, Peter! … Peter, Peter, Peter! When I hear this emphatic call I know that the Tufted Titmouse will soon be on the safflower, sunflower, or peanut feeder. Titmice are about the size of a House Sparrow, and are often thought to be baby cardinals, because of their crest. Primarily grey with a white belly and rusty flanks. A black eye ring makes their eyes look larger than most birds’ eyes.

In Missouri, titmice are year round residents that favor oak dominant woodlands. They eat seeds and insects; they have been seen at jelly feeders as well. At feeder stations, they have a fondness for peanuts.

They nest across the state, but are more abundant in the southern half of the state as the northern border of Missouri is close to the limit of their breeding range. Cavities are lined with moss, bark, fur, leaves, and grass to form a nice, cozy nest. They will use a nest box with a 1 & 1/4 inch opening. Customers have shared pictures of titmice plucking fur from their sleeping dogs! Once the nest is finished, mom will sit on 5-7 eggs which are white to creamy white, with brown spots. Incubation is usually 13-14 days with the young fledging after 15-18 days.

This spring, brush your favorite pet and share the fur with your feath­ered friends. You may just get a Tufted Titmouse for a neighbor!

By Ruth Simmons

Winter 2016