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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Tufted Titmouse

Baeolophus bicolor ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: PARIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A little gray bird with an echoing voice, the Tufted Titmouse is common in eastern deciduous forests and a frequent visitor to feeders. The large black eyes, small, round bill, and brushy crest gives these birds a quiet but eager expression that matches the way they flit through canopies, hang from twig-ends, and drop in to bird feeders. When a titmouse finds a large seed, you’ll see it carry the prize to a perch and crack it with sharp whacks of its stout bill.

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Keys to identification Help

Chickadeelike
Chickadeelike
Typical Voice
  • Size & Shape

    Tufted Titmice look large among the small birds that come to feeders, an impression that comes from their large head and eye, thick neck, and full bodies. The pointed crest and stout bill help identify titmice even in silhouette.

  • Color Pattern

    Soft silvery gray above and white below, with a rusty or peach-colored wash down the flanks. A black patch just above the bill makes the bird look snub-nosed.

  • Behavior

    Tufted Titmice are acrobatic foragers, if a bit slower and more methodical than chickadees. They often flock with chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers and are regular visitors to feeders, where they are assertive over smaller birds. Their flight tends to be fluttery but level rather than undulating.

  • Habitat

    You’ll find Tufted Titmice in most eastern woodlands below 2,000 feet elevation, including deciduous and evergreen forests. Tufted Titmice are also common visitors at feeders and can be found in backyards, parks, and orchards.

Range Map Help

Tufted Titmouse Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

  • Adult

    Tufted Titmouse

    Adult
    • Gray upperparts and crest
    • Pale underparts and face, orangish flanks
    • Black forehead
    • Short, stout black bill
    • © Kevin Bolton, New Jersey, November 2008
  • Adult

    Tufted Titmouse

    Adult
    • Gray upperparts
    • Gray crest
    • Orange or buff sides
    • Big black eye in gray face
    • © William Jobes, Pennsylvania, January 2009
  • Adult

    Tufted Titmouse

    Adult
    • Gray above with obvious crest
    • Orangish sides may be faint
    • Long, gray tail
    • © Bob Baker, Greene Co., Virginia, August 2007
  • Adult

    Tufted Titmouse

    Adult
    • Pale underparts, orangish flanks
    • Black forehead, pale face, gray crest
    • Short, stout black bill
    • Big black eye in gray face
    • © Debbie McKenzie, Alabama
  • Adult

    Tufted Titmouse

    Adult
    • Gray crest and black forehead
    • Big black eye in gray face
    • © claire06010, Bristol, Connecticut, November 2008
  • Adult

    Tufted Titmouse

    Adult
    • Pale gray upperparts
    • Short gray crest
    • © Charles Eldermire, Ithaca, New York, February 2007

Similar Species

  • Adult

    Black-crested Titmouse

    Adult
    • Black crest, pale forehead
    • Identical to Tufted in other plumage characteristics
    • Ranges overlap only in central Texas
    • © Tripp Davenport, Real Co, Texas, January 2009
  • Adult

    Bridled Titmouse

    Adult
    • Distinct dark face pattern on white face
    • Black throat and crest
    • Dark gray back, pale underparts
    • © cl_cochran, Arizona, November 2008
  • Adults

    Bushtit

    Adults
    • Large head, tiny bill
    • No crest
    • Plain gray overall (may have black earpatch)
    • © birdmandea, Steilacoom, Washington, January 2009
  • Adult female

    Phainopepla

    Adult female
    • Dark gray overall with ragged crest
    • Wings edged with white
    • Reddish eye
    • © Desert Vu, Clark Co., Nevada, January 2009
  • Adult

    Oak Titmouse

    Adult
    • Ranges do not overlap
    • Medium gray overall, plain face
    • Short crest
    • © sannesu, California, December 2008

Similar Species

The Black-crested Titmouse of central Texas has a white forehead and fully black crest compared with Tufted Titmouse's black forehead and gray crest. Chickadees are slightly smaller, lack the crest, and have bold black-and-white head, cheeks, and throat. The Oak and Juniper titmice of the western United States don't overlap in range with Tufted Titmouse. They are smaller and plainer brown.

Backyard Tips

Tufted Titmouse are regulars at backyard bird feeders, especially in winter. They prefer sunflower seeds but will eat suet, peanuts, and other seeds as well. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

Tufted Titmouse build their nests in cavities, so putting up nest boxes is a good way to attract breeding titmice to your yard. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.

Find This Bird

Look for Tufted Titmice flitting through the outer branches of tree canopies in deciduous woods, parks, and backyards. A quiet walk through woodlands will often turn up the twittering of a mixed-species foraging flock, and you’ll likely find titmice in attendance. You’ll often hear the high, whistled peter-peter-peter song well before you see the bird.

Get Involved

Keep track of the Tufted Titmice at your feeder with Project FeederWatch

Visit the NestCams archives to watch Tufted Titmice at their nest.

Enhance your yard for titmice and other birds. Visit our web pages on feeding and attracting birds.

Check out our resources on attracting cavity-nesting birds and setting up a nest box for small songbirds such as Tufted Titmice. Then report any nesting activity to NestWatch

You Might Also Like

Risk Management for Chickadees, Living Bird, Autumn 2013

Tufted Titmouse from Bent's Life Histories of North American Birds (1947)

All About Birds blog, Here’s What to Feed Your Summer Bird Feeder Visitors, July 11, 2014.

All About Birds blog, Research Surprise: Many Birds Exposed to Eye Disease, but Only Finches Get Sick, August 25, 2014.

Downloadable "Common Feeder Birds" poster from Project FeederWatch (PDF)