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Bridled Titmouse Life History

Habitat

Habitat Forests

Bridled Titmice inhabit mountain ranges, mostly in mature woodlands where oaks or a mixture of oaks, pines, and junipers predominate. Important tree species in Arizona include Emory oak, Arizona white oak, alligator juniper, Chihuahua pine, and Apache pine. They also occupy stream corridors with trees such as Fremont cottonwood, Arizona sycamore, velvet ash, bigtooth maple, and desert willow. In the United States, they breed in areas as low as 5,000 feet elevation but sometimes descend to lower elevations in winter. In Mexico, their habitats are similar and include trees such as red oak, white oak, Cooper’s pine, and Arizona madrone.

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Food

Food Insects

Bridled Titmice eat mostly insects and spiders. They forage acrobatically and restlessly, searching for insects and larvae year-round by investigating bark, leaves, small branches and twigs in the middle levels of trees. They pluck insects from twigs, leaves, and clusters of dead vegetation, rather like a chickadee or bushtit, often suspending themselves upside-down briefly to reach prey on the tips of outer branches or leaves. They tend to forage more in oaks than in conifers, especially in warmer weather, although they use pines and junipers frequently in colder weather. They also eat acorns, along with the beetle larvae sometimes found in them, and also break open plant galls to reach larvae. Prey include beetles (especially weevils), bugs, caterpillars, leafhoppers, and spiders.

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Nesting

Nest Placement

Nest Tree

Nests are constructed within tree cavities, such as a knothole or a disused woodpecker nest, or nest boxes, usually more than 5 feet above the ground.

Nest Description

Females perform most of the nest construction. After cleaning the cavity, she lines it with coarse green material such as alligator juniper, then a layer of dry grasses, then a layer of soft leaves, forming a cup that is usually held together with spiderweb or caterpillar silk. Other nest materials include cottonwood down, flowers, catkins, lichens, and fur. Nest cavities range from 6 to 18 inches deep and 1.3 to 4 inches across.

Nesting Facts

Clutch Size:4-8 eggs
Egg Description:

White, unmarked.

Condition at Hatching:

Helpless and naked.

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Behavior

Behavior Foliage Gleaner

Bridled Titmice begin breeding in early spring, when males sing around the boundaries of their territories and females start to investigate nest cavities. This species forms monogamous pairs that stay together year-round. In spring, males stay especially close to their partners, often feeding the females, which quiver the wings and beg like nestlings. This mate-feeding, or courtship feeding, usually ends when incubation of eggs begins. The Bridled Titmouse is unique among North American titmice and chickadees (family Paridae) in having helpers at the nest. A third adult often joins a pair to feed and tend the young during the nesting season. In some cases, this helper is a male that also courtship-feeds the female and also sings, although in a subordinate role. The members of the pair share incubation duties, but it is unknown whether nest-helpers incubate. After young have fledged, Bridled Titmice form flocks that usually include other woodland birds, among them various species of flycatchers, kinglets, nuthatches, vireos, warblers, tanagers, Bushtits, Verdins, Bewick’s Wrens, Mexican Chickadees, Olive Warblers, and sometimes even Juniper Titmice. In these flocks, Bridled Titmice appear to lead the flock’s movements and also to function as sentinels, watching for predators and sounding the alarm with harsh calls.

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Conservation

Conservation Low Concern

Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 160,000 Bridled Titmice and rates the species 13 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, indicating a species of low conservation concern. A 2016 report estimated 82,000 breeding individuals in the U.S. portion of the range. Oak and pine-oak forests are its main habitat, and logging or clearing of these areas in both the U.S. and Mexico is a concern for this species.

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Backyard Tips

Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. 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.

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Credits

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. (2019). Longevity records of North American birds. Version 1019 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2019.

Nocedal, Jorge and Millicent S. Ficken. (1998). Bridled Titmouse (Baeolophus wollweberi), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Rosenberg, K. V., J. A. Kennedy, R. Dettmers, R. P. Ford, D. Reynolds, J. D. Alexander, C. J. Beardmore, P. J. Blancher, R. E. Bogart, G. S. Butcher, A. F. Camfield, A. Couturier, D. W. Demarest, W. E. Easton, J. J. Giocomo, R. H. Keller, A. E. Mini, A. O. Panjabi, D. N. Pashley, T. D. Rich, J. M Ruth, H. Stabins, J. Stanton, and T. Will (2016). Partners in Flight Landbird Conservation Plan: 2016 Revision of Canada and Continental United States. Partners in Flight Science Committee.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, USA.

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