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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A favorite visitor

I don't know when I first became aware of tufted titmice, but they've been one of my favorite birds at least since I began bird gardening in the Nineties.What's not to like? They're readily identifiable, they're cute, and they have no bad habits that I know of. They're even easy birds to attract to ordinary yards.

Titmice are related to chickadees, and like their hyperactive cousins, they come readily to feeders, drawn to some of the same seeds favored by chickadees and cardinals, including the safflower seeds that deer, starlings, and English sparrows don't eat. Reducing seed expenses and the mess left by hordes of English imports is generally a good thing. (Of course, the unfussy titmice will also eat the seeds that everybody likes, as witnessed by this specimen about to make off with half a shelled peanut.)  
What is particularly amusing is their habit of selecting the largest seed they can find, flying to the nearest perch, and shelling it; no wonder they have to eat all day, with the energy they require.

 In the summer, titmice help to keep down the insect population, also a good thing. I learned recently that they prefer to nest in holes in tree snags, so the drill will come out next summer to create a few starter holes in the tall stumps left when we had to thin our yard's white pine population. As far as I'm concerned, the more tufteds, the better.

1 comment:

David said...

One of my favorites too, Rebecca. :) (but I have so many!)

Feeders without chickadees and titmice would not be the same.

As for cavity nesters...great idea about leaving the snags and, perhaps starting the decaying process with a drill. I believe woodpeckers will create cavities, and then other birds use them in later years--but I could be mistaken. So, hopefully before long, you'll have some kind of cavity nesting bird to enjoy... I hope you get your beloved titmice.