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Tenth Day of Christmas

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

…ten tufted titmice!

…nine frogs a-croaking!
…eight vultures circling!
...seven spiky yuccas!
...six types of milkweed!
…fiiiive! naaaative! plaaaaants!
…four hummingbirds!
…three moorhens!
…two mourning doves!
…and a replacement for a Bradford pear tree!

The tufted titmouse is one of my very favorite feeder birds, and not just because I’m twelve and still like saying “titmouse!” (Bwhaahah!) They’re one of the really common feeder birds in the eastern US and look like…well, like titmice. (Small gray and white cardinals is how I’d describe them to a non-birder, I guess.) They have little crests and big black eyes and they hoard food. In fall and winter, there is a constant stream of tufted titmice coming and going from the feeder with safflower seed to stash somewhere.

They don’t flock, per se, but hang about in pairs and trios, usually with Carolina chickadees. They’re also one of those birds who like to nest in cavities in trees, but can’t excavate their own. They use old woodpecker holes instead. I have on at least one occasion seen tufted titmice move into a tree-trunk cavity immediately after a red-bellied woodpecker has fledged.

Tufted titmice have raised multiple broods in my garden, generally averaging a fledgling or two a year. They’re very common and in no way endangered, but I’m still delighted to see them having babies locally. Makes me feel like we’re doing something right.

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.


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You are so funny. I've really enjoyed these drawings and posts.

The hamster looks SO RELIEVED that nothing is trying to bite, cut, stab, or amplexus her...

I agree. Thank you for giving the poor hamster a break.

I had a titmouse pair nest in a birdhouse on my back porch. After they fledged something larger came along and excavated the hole to make it larger, but never appeared to move in.

I adore titmice.

Titmouses (Titmice?) should always come in pairs! Otherwise it's just weird!

I love it when they get all puffed up from the cold or drying off from a bath! *poof* "super spheroid fluff form engaged!"

Happy hamster!

I wasn't logged in when I looked at this, and there was a 'material not suitable for underage people' warning. Apparently titmice are very erotic!

I cannot be the only reader who is sorry that it's only twelve days of Christmas.

But wait! The twelve days of Christmas begin *after* Christmas. Do we get another set?

"The Hangover After Xmas" series?

because I’m twelve and still like saying “titmouse!”

Reminds me of Bentley's Book of Birds, which has, amongst all the ornithology, one entry for a "crested tit" which is to be found in the bosom of a marchioness...

That book title reminded me of this unfortunately titled book, which I know about only because of its mention in the devastatingly wicked Clive James poem, "The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered".

Titmeese will eat out of your hand if properly acclimated.

I used to live within reasonable driving distance of a park that had a nature area. Some volunteer had taught some of the birds to eat out of one's hand and the birds passed the knowledge on. Equipped with some sunflower seed, one could find oneself with one or more of the following species in the hand: Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, and, if one was supremely lucky, Downy Woodpecker. [These species occur together in winter feeding flocks in SE Michigan, which is where this all happened.]

The chickadees in particular were very relaxed. They would land on whatever surface was available: bird book being consulted, binoculars [thank goodness for rainguards], one's hat, various portions of anatomy. They had were also organized. One almost never had more than one chickadee in one's hand at a time. On the other hand, one was glad to not be in charge of air traffic control.

Suffering titmouse envy. I'm one hour north of thier northern range so I only see them if I'm birding a bit further south. So frustrating!

I adore tufted titmice, which are much less common (at least at feeders) up here in Vermont. Every once in a while we'll see a pair or two at our feeder - did you know they mate for life? I'd love to see them nesting!

Edited at 2012-12-23 10:24 pm (UTC)

I have titmouse envy, too. We don't have them here on the west coast. I adored them when I lived in Ohio and Indiana (but not, note, enough to stay there for them [g]).

Their attitude reminds me of miniature bluejays.

A friend of mine is doing her PhD work on tufted titmice. Nearly all of the bird photos in her presentations are of the titmice biting her, as they don't appreciate being caught and held (not even for science).

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