Chickadees are slightly larger than Bushtits, and their characteristic dark crown, white face, and dark bib provide much more contrast than Bushtits show. Golden-crowned Kinglets have olive upperparts and boldly marked heads with a black line through the eye, white line over the eye, and a noticeable yellow-orange crown patch. Gnatcatchers have longer bills and smaller heads than Bushtits. Their black tails contrast sharply with their duller gray-brown backs. The Oak Titmouse and Juniper Titmouse are larger than the Bushtit with a distinct, short crest to the head. Verdins live in deserts. They have a longer, sharper bill, a yellow face, and a small rufous patch in the wing.
Individuals of this species tend to be darker in more humid coastal areas. Along the Pacific Coast, Bushtits have brown crowns; birds farther inland have gray crowns. The frequency of Bushtits with blackish masks increases in southern parts of the range.
Bushtits eat mostly small insects, and can be hard to attract to feeders. You can help make your yard inviting to them by planting native shrubs and small trees. 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.
Find This Bird
Bushtits are inconspicuous but common. Look for them moving through low branches of open woodlands, edges, and park or neighborhood vegetation, where they are active and acrobatic as they search for insects. Listen for their quiet but consistent call notes.