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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.

Songs

  • Song, call
     
  • Song
     
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The Tufted Titmouse’s song is a fast-repeated, clear whistle: peter-peter-peter. The birds repeat this up to 11 times in succession or up to 35 songs delivered per minute. Females occasionally sing a quieter version of the song.

Calls

  • Calls, song
     
  • Call
     
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Titmouse calls are nasal and mechanical. A scratchy, chickadee-like tsee-day-day-day is the most common. Tufted Titmice also give fussy, scolding call notes and, when predators are sighted, a harsh distress call that warns other titmice of the danger.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

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 All About Birdhouses. You'll find plans for building a nest box for Tufted Titmouse.

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

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.

Bird-friendly Winter Gardens, Birdsleuth, 2016.

You Might Also Like

Risk Management for Chickadees, Living Bird, Autumn 2013.

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

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

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

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

Like Chasing Tornadoes: The Fun And Challenge Of Mixed Species Flocks, Living Bird, Autumn 2014.

Power Struggles Are Playing Out At Your Feeder—Here’s What To Look For, All About Birds, March 11, 2015.

Coping with Cold: A Bird’s Strategy, Project Feederwatch, January 22, 2015.

Halloween Special: Boo! Don’t be such a scaredy bird, it’s only a mask!, Project FeederWatch, October 30, 2015.

Where Is That Bird Going With That Seed? It’s Caching Food For Later, All About Birds, April 13, 2016.

Look out! The Backyard Bird Alarm Call Network, Living Bird, Winter 2016.

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