Living Bird Magazine
Juniper TitmouseBaeolophus ridgwayi
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Paridae
The Juniper Titmouse is a plain gray bird with a prominent black eye and a feisty tuft of feathers on its head. What it lacks in color, it makes up for with attitude, and its scratchy chatter can be heard all year in the pinyon-juniper woodlands of the interior West. They’re often easy to find as they flit to and from trees or acrobatically dangle upside down from thin branches. They are very similar to the Oak Titmouse and were previously considered the same species, the Plain Titmouse, but they live in different habitats.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Juniper Titmouse are habitat specialists, so head out to a pinyon-juniper woodland and listen for their characteristic scratchy calls. Once you're in the right place you're likely to find them foraging fairly conspicuously, just like titmice and chickadees in other habitats. Mountain Chickadees and Black-capped Chickadees also have a harsh scratchy call, but it's thinner, more drawn out, and generally softer than a Juniper Titmouse's call. Heading out early in the morning from the middle of March through May will increase your chances of finding them singing on top of an exposed branch. Look for them foraging on the outer branches of trees and shrubs at or above eye level.
- Herrerillo de Ridgway (Spanish)
- Mésange des genévriers (French)
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.
- Cool Facts
- Like many other members of the chickadee family Juniper Titmice don’t migrate and instead stick out harsh winters on their breeding grounds. One of the ways they survive the cold, virtually insect-free season is by storing seeds in crevices of trees or other places to eat later.
- The incubating female is reluctant to leave the nest when she is incubating eggs. If she is disturbed on the nest she will often hiss like a snake and refuse to move.
- Juniper Titmouse and Oak Titmouse were previously considered one species with the rather humdrum name of Plain Titmouse. But researchers discovered they live in different habitats and while related are genetically different. The species were split and given new names that reflect their habitat preferences.
- The oldest recorded Juniper Titmouse was a female, and at least 4 years, 2 months old when she was recaptured and released during banding operations in New Mexico.