Juniper Titmouse Life History

Habitat

Habitat Open WoodlandsThe Juniper Titmouse is a habitat specialist that lives mainly in dry, open pinyon-juniper woodlands of the Great Basin and Upper Sonoran Zone. They occur from at elevations from about 2,250-8,000 feet in woodlands with sagebrush, Joshua tree, or other species of shrubs in the understory. They tend to live in areas with older pinyon pine and juniper trees, where more nesting cavities are available. Back to top

Food

Food InsectsThe Juniper Titmouse eats seeds, particularly pinyon pine seeds, plant material, insects, and spiders. Insects in their diet include beetles, caterpillars, flies, leafhoppers, and more. They also regularly visit sunflower and suet feeders.Back to top

Nesting

Nest Placement

Nest CavityJuniper Titmice nest in natural cavities in dead trees or stumps, in old woodpecker holes, and in nest boxes. Females likely select the cavity for nesting, but the role of the male is not known. They often use cavities that are 3 to 12 feet above the ground.

Nest Description

The female builds a nest cup inside the cavity, using grass, shredded bark, moss, feathers, and hair. It takes them between 4 and 10 days to build a nest.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:4-7 eggs
Egg Length:0.6-0.8 in (1.6-2 cm)
Egg Width:0.5-0.6 in (1.3-1.4 cm)
Incubation Period:14-16 days
Nestling Period:16-21 days
Egg Description:White and usually unmarked or with faint reddish-brown speckles.
Condition at Hatching:Helpless.
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Behavior

Behavior Foliage GleanerJuniper Titmice hop or fly with an undulating motion between trees and shrubs in the canopy and middle story of pinyon-juniper woodlands. They forage acrobatically with their strong feet, clinging to twigs and branches while they reach for seeds or insects. They pry open seeds with their stout bill by hammering them against tree branches. Pairs form in the first year of life and typically remain together for life. They defend territories year-round and generally do not flock with other species in the winter. When intruders enter a territory, Juniper Titmice threaten them by raising their crests and calling harshly. Predators such as Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay and snakes eat eggs and nestlings. Back to top

Conservation

Conservation Low ConcernPopulations of Juniper Titmice were stable across their range between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates the global breeding population at 180,000, with 99% living in the United States and 1% in Mexico. The species is not on the State of North America’s Birds 2016 Watch List, and rates an 11 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score (where 20 is given to the most threatened species). The main threat to Juniper Titmice is habitat alteration including removal of trees for fuel or conversion of pinyon-juniper woodlands to pasture. Back to top

Backyard Tips

Juniper Titmice visit sunflower and suet feeders especially in areas with shrub and tree cover. Learn more about attracting Juniper Titmice and other species at Project FeederWatch.

Juniper Titmice use nest boxes, so consider putting one up in your yard. Try to have it ready before the breeding season begins and attach a predator guard if possible. Find out more about nest boxes and how to build your own at All About Birdhouses.

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Credits

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. (2016). The State of North America's Birds 2016. Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.

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

Sauer, J. R., D. K. Niven, J. E. Hines, D. J. Ziolkowski, Jr., K. L. Pardieck, J. E. Fallon, and W. A. Link (2017). The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966–2015. Version 2.07.2017. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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