We see them all the time in the company of their close cousins, the chickadees, but what do we really know about titmice? While chickadees are constantly making their presence known with their cute antics, the titmouse is a calmer, quieter bird, but he has a personality too. We may not always notice and yet we should!
A definitely unappreciated little bird, you can often see titmice at your bird feeders—just as much as chickadees and nuthatches. In fact, they’re one of the top 10 reported birds in the Great Backyard Bird Count. They may appear drab gray and uninteresting at first, but if you look closely, you can see how the titmouse is one of the few small birds with a little crest on his head and has very large, dark eyes.
And there are other interesting facts about titmice. There are 5 species of titmice in North America. All are non-migratory and you can see them at your feeders year-round. They are sociable little birds and get along with other birds at the feeder. Some have a call similar to the “chick a dee dee” of their cousins, while the Tufted Titmouse of the eastern U. S. and the Black-crested Titmouse of Texas have a loud, whistled, “peter, peter, peter” call. Titmice get their name from the Old English words “tit,” meaning any small thing, and “mase,” meaning “small bird.”
And the titmouse is a little different from his cousins in another way. Most non-migratory birds join large flocks consisting of many different families when nesting season is over. But titmice are more solitary and stay together as a pair all winter. When you see two of them together at your feeders, sometimes in the company of an offspring from the previous summer, you know they’re a little family.
Titmice are very easy to attract. They enjoy suet, sunflower seeds and peanuts. Feed them suet in a hanging basket and sunflower seeds and/or peanuts in a mesh tube feeder or a tube seed feeder. And they always come to foods placed out on a platform feeder.
So the next time you see a little gray bird at your feeder that doesn’t look like anything special at first glance—take another look. And enjoy observing the little, gray titmouse.