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Oak Titmouse

Baeolophus inornatus ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: PARIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Nondescript save for its crest, the Oak Titmouse might not wow many bird watchers at first sight. But these vocal, active birds characterize the warm, dry oak woods from southern Oregon to Baja California—they’re “the voice and soul of the oaks,” according to one early naturalist. Mates pair for life, and both partners noisily defend their territory year-round. The Oak Titmouse and the nearly identical Juniper Titmouse of the Great Basin were once treated as a single species, the Plain Titmouse.

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Songs

Oak Titmice males sing several songs, all involving sharp, robust notes, both high and low, in repeated sequences with a steady tempo. Males sing infrequently in the nonbreeding season, singing more and more as spring approaches. Females are capable of singing but do so only rarely.

Calls

Males and females are highly vocal, chattering from elevated perches mostly to defend territories from other Oak Titmice. These calls include both high- and low-pitched notes, some shrill and some scratchy. Oak Titmice also make lisping notes during foraging, hissing and puffing sounds to defend the nest, twittering during courtship, and shrill notes when flushed from a roost.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Within their restricted range Oak Titmice visit feeders with sunflower seeds and other birdseeds, particularly when tree cover is nearby. They prefer seeds on raised trays or tubes rather than ground feeders. Oak Titmice often take up residence in nest boxes.

Find This Bird

To see Oak Titmice, visit oak forests of the Pacific slope between southern Oregon and Baja California, especially around the Central Valley of California. Look for the drab birds as they flit energetically from tree to tree in search of food, and listen for them calling or singing noisily from a high perch.