MORE TITMOUSE INFORMATION:
The Tufted Titmouse ranges over nearly the entire eastern half of the US, excluding only the northernmost border and the southernmost tip of Florida. It is sparrow-sized, gray above and white below with a rust color on its sides and a gray crest. A small black patch can be seen just above the beak, and its large black eyes give it an inquisitive look. Its cousin, the Black-crested Titmouse, dwells in Texas, has a black crest, and is otherwise the same bird.
This little gray fellow is a permanent resident throughout its range, living in deciduous woods, preferably near swamps and riversides. They are largely insectivorous, but in winter much of their diet may consist of berries, nuts and seeds. They are fond of peanut kernels, sunflower seeds, and suet at feeders. They also like little pieces of white bread.
The Plain Titmouse is the western cousin and lives in the southwestern states. It is a small, gray bird with a crest, but it is all gray, without the rust or white accents.
Both birds hunt for insects by clinging to branches of trees and shrubs and peering into the crevices of the bark. They sometimes forage on the ground as well.
Their calls are similar, a whistled peter, peter, peter.
A less common variety, the Bridled Titmouse, is found only in the mountains of southern Arizona and New Mexico and has a small black bib and black eyeliner on its face. It has a call like the chickadee's.
Titmice are not afraid of people, making them a common inhabitant of gardens and back yards. They are curious little fellows and will sometimes perch on a window ledge and peer into your house to see what's going on.
Titmice nest in the cavities of trees, in either natural holes or in abandoned woodpecker holes. Sometimes they excavate a hole themselves in rotting wood.
They may be attracted to a nesting box by placing nesting material nearby, such as hair (human or combed from a cat or dog), fur, feathers and thread (no more than 3 inches to 4 inches long). Their breeding season is from March to July. The female does all the nest building, but the male may keep her company. He will bring her food when she is incubating her eggs.
The nest may contain 4 to 8 white eggs with brown speckles. They hatch in 13-16 days, and after another 15 to 18 days the little birds leave the nest. Adults will raise one, possibly two, broods per year.
The nesting box should be placed on a tree or fence post in semi-shade, about 5' to 10' off the ground, in a suburban area with a mixture of trees and open areas.
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