Tufted titmouse

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Tufted titmouse
Tufted titmouse in winter
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Paridae
Genus: Baeolophus
B. bicolor
Binomial name
Baeolophus bicolor
(Linnaeus, 1766)
Approximate distribution map

Parus bicolor Linnaeus, 1766

The tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) is a small songbird from North America, a species in the tit and chickadee family (Paridae). The black-crested titmouse, found from central and southern Texas southward,[2] was included as a subspecies but now is considered a separate species, Baeolophus atricristatus.[3]


The genus name Baeolophus translates to small crested and is a compound of the Ancient Greek words βαιός: baiós—"small", and λόφος: "lόphοs"—crest. The species name bicolor means two-colored.



  • Length: 5.5–6.3 in (14–16 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6–0.9 oz (17–26 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.9–10.2 in (20–26 cm)

These small birds have a white front and grey upper body outlined with rust colored flanks. Other characteristics include their black foreheads and the tufted grey crest on their heads.[5] In juveniles, the black forehead is greatly diminished such that they may be confused with the oak titmouse (although their ranges do not overlap). Males tend to be larger than females.[6]

The song of the tufted titmouse is usually described as a whistled peter-peter-peter, although this song can vary in approximately 20 notable ways.[7]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Its habitat is deciduous and mixed woods as well as gardens, parks, and shrublands. Although the tufted titmouse is non-migratory and originally native to the Ohio and Mississippi River basins, factors such as bird feeders have caused these birds to occupy a larger territory across the United States and stretching into Ontario and Quebec in Canada.[5][6][8] During the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st century, the species' range has been expanding northwards.[4]

Behavior and ecology[edit]

The tufted titmouse gathers food from the ground and from tree branches, frequently consuming a variety of berries, nuts, seeds, small fruits, insects, and other invertebrates.[9] Caterpillars constitute a major part of its diet during the summer. This species is also a regular visitor to bird feeders.[10] Its normal pattern is to scout a feeder from cover, fly in to take a seed, then fly back to shelter to consume the morsel, though caching is also very common.[9][11]

The titmouse can demonstrate curiosity regarding humans and sometimes will perch on a window ledge and seem to be peering into the house. It may also cling to the window frames and walls of buildings seeking prey in wasp and hornet nests.[citation needed]

Titmice are very vocal and will respond to sounds of agitation in other birds.[4] This species readily forms small flocks, known as troupes or banditries, which often associate with chickadees and other passerines when foraging.[12]


Tufted titmice nest in a hole in a tree, either a natural cavity, a human-made nest box, or sometimes an old woodpecker nest.[13] They line the nest with soft materials, sometimes plucking hair from a live animal such as a dog.[14] If they find snake skin sheds, they may incorporate pieces into their nest.[15] Eggs measure under 1 inch (2.5 centimetres) long and are white or cream-colored with brownish or purplish spots.[16] Eggs have an incubation period of 12–14 days; titmice will then remain nestlings for 15–16 days.[4]

The lifespan of the tufted titmouse is approximately 2.1 years, although it can live for more than ten years.[17] On average, these birds will have a clutch size of five to seven eggs.[18] Unlike many birds, the offspring of tufted titmice will often stay with their parents during the winter and even after the first year of their life.[19] Sometimes, a bird born the year before will help its parents raise the next year's young.[20]

Tufted titmice will occasionally hybridize with the black-crested titmouse; the hybridization range is very narrow, however, because of genetic differences.[6]


From 1966 to 2015 the tufted titmouse population has increased by more than 1.5% per year throughout the northeastern U.S.[21] The current breeding population is estimated to be approximately 8 million.[4]



  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Baeolophus bicolor". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22711983A94314102. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22711983A94314102.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  2. ^ Kaufman, Kenn (13 November 2014). "Black-crested Titmouse". National Audubon Society. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  3. ^ Banks, Richard C.; Cicero, Carla; Dunn, Jon L.; Kratter, Andrew W.; Rasmussen, Pamela C.; Remsen, J. V.; Rising, James D.; Stotz, Douglas F. (1 July 2002). "Forty-Third Supplement to The American Ornithologists' Union Check-List of North American Birds". The Auk. 119 (3): 897–906. doi:10.1093/auk/119.3.897. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Tufted Titmouse Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology". www.allaboutbirds.org. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  5. ^ a b McCommons, James (2003). "Tufted Titmouse". Emmaus. 50: 16. ProQuest 203733124.
  6. ^ a b c "Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) General Biology |". Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  7. ^ Grubb, Thomas C. (1998). Tufted Titmouse. Stackpole Books. ISBN 9780811729673.
  8. ^ "Tufted Titmouse" (PDF). Ohio Birds. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Tufted Titmouse". Audubon. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  10. ^ Montgomery, Sy. "Titmouse". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Tufted Titmouse - Diet". National Audubon Society. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  12. ^ Parnell, Marc (2022). Birds of Connecticut (The Birding Pro's Field Guides). Cleveland, Ohio: Naturalist & Traveler Press. pp. 214–215. ISBN 978-1-954228-27-6.
  13. ^ Laskey, Amelia. "Some Tufted Titmouse Life History" (PDF). Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Tufted Titmouse, Audubon Field Guide". 13 November 2014. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  15. ^ Medlin, Elizabeth C.; Risch, Thomas S. (2006). "An Experimental Test Of Snake Skin Use To Deter Nest Predation". The Condor. 108 (4): 963. doi:10.1650/0010-5422(2006)108[963:aetoss]2.0.co;2. ISSN 0010-5422. S2CID 86039366.
  16. ^ "Common Nesting birds - Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)". Nest Watch. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  17. ^ Elder, William H. (1985). "Survivorship in the Tufted Titmouse" (PDF). Wilson Bull. 97: 517–524 – via ProQuest.
  18. ^ Laskey, Amelia R. (July 1957). "Some Tufted Titmouse Life History" (PDF). Bird-Banding. 28 (3): 135–145. doi:10.2307/4510633. JSTOR 4510633 – via ProQuest.
  19. ^ Pravosudova, Elena V.; Grubb, Thomas C.; Parker, Patricia G.; Doherty, Paul F. (1999). "Patch Size and Composition of Social Groups in Wintering Tufted Titmice". The Auk. 116 (4): 1152–1155. doi:10.2307/4089699. JSTOR 4089699.
  20. ^ "All About Birds - Tufted Titmouse". Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  21. ^ "Tufted & Black-crest. Titmou Baeolophus bicolor/atricrista". Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2 January 2019.

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