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bird, big voice: Thats an apt description for the tufted
titmouse. Usually 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 inches long, this mouse-colored
bird with a tufted crest frequently cuts loose with a resounding
peter, peter, peter. Additionally, it uses a dee-dee-dee
call similar to that of the chickadee, a scolding ya-ya-ya,
a variety of whispers, a warble, and, if its eggs are threatened,
nesting habits of the tufted titmouse also make it a conspicuous
bird. To cushion the nest for its five or six eggs, this titmouse
has the unusual habit of plucking hair from living mammals, including
dogs, horses, woodchucks, squirrels, even humans. Sometimes, it
hammers a damp leaf into a ball to serve as building material.
Usually, the titmouse builds its nest in a natural cavity of a
stump, branch or pole with an entrance hole less than two inches
a choice, the tufted titmouse dines on insects. But it settles
for a diet consisting largely of seeds and berries during the
winter. Its also a regular visitor to winter bird feeders,
where it favors peanut kernels, sunflower seeds and the occasional
doughnut. If you lack a feeder, you can attract it by smearing
suet or peanut butter directly onto tree trunks and branches.
In the summer months, you sometimes can lure a tufted titmouse
out of the forest with a bird bath.
tufted titmouse is easy to find in groups of two to six throughout
wooded areas of the eastern United States. When not breeding,
it often travels in small flocks mixed with other species.
Text © 1999 Terry White, Drawing ©
1999 Bill Harrah