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Tufted Titmouse Life History


ForestsTufted Titmice live in deciduous woods or mixed evergreen-deciduous woods, typically in areas with a dense canopy and many tree species. They are also common in orchards, parks, and suburban areas. Generally found at low elevations, Tufted Titmice are rarely reported at elevations above 2,000 feet.Back to top


InsectsTufted Titmice eat mainly insects in the summer, including caterpillars, beetles, ants and wasps, stink bugs, and treehoppers, as well as spiders and snails. Tufted Titmice also eat seeds, nuts, and berries, including acorns and beech nuts. Experiments with Tufted Titmice indicate they always choose the largest seeds they can when foraging.Back to top


Nest Placement

CavityTufted Titmice nest in cavities but aren’t able to excavate them on their own. They use natural holes and old nest holes made by several woodpecker species, including large species such as Pileated Woodpecker and Northern Flicker. Additionally, Tufted Titmice also nest in artificial structures including nest boxes, fenceposts, and metal pipes.

Nest Description

Titmice build cup-shaped nests inside the nest cavity using damp leaves, moss and grasses, and bark strips. They line this cup with soft materials such as hair, fur, wool, and cotton, sometimes plucking hairs directly from living mammals. Naturalists examining old nests have identified raccoon, opossum, dog, fox squirrel, red squirrel, rabbit, horse, cow, cat, mouse, woodchuck, and even human hair in titmouse nests. Nest construction takes 6 to 11 days.

Nesting Facts

Clutch Size:3-9 eggs
Number of Broods:1 brood
Egg Length:0.7-0.8 in (1.7-2 cm)
Egg Width:0.6-0.6 in (1.4-1.6 cm)
Incubation Period:12-14 days
Nestling Period:15-16 days
Egg Description:White to creamy white, spotted with chestnut-red, brown, purple, or lilac.
Condition at Hatching:Almost entirely naked and pink, with tufts of down on head and along spine, eyes closed.
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Foliage GleanerTufted Titmice flit from branch to branch of the forest canopy looking for food, often in the company of other species including nuthatches, chickadees, kinglets, and woodpeckers. When they find large seeds, such as the sunflower seeds they take from bird feeders, titmice typically hold the seed with their feet and hammer it open with their beaks. In fall and winter they often hoard these shelled seeds in bark crevices. These acrobatic foragers often hang upside down or sideways as they investigate cones, undersides of branches, and leaf clusters. They sometimes come all the way to the ground to hop around after fallen seeds or insects. Titmice are very vocal birds and are also quick to respond to the sounds of agitation in other birds, coming close to investigate or joining a group of birds mobbing a predator.Back to top


Low Concern

Tufted Titmice are common, and populations have increased between 1966 and 2019, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 12 million and rates the species 7 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, indicating a species of low conservation concern. Their range has been expanding northward over the last half-century. Possible reasons for range expansion include a warming climate, farmlands reverting to forests, and the growing popularity of backyard bird feeders.

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Partners in Flight. (2020). Avian Conservation Assessment Database, version 2020.

Ritchison, Gary, T. C. Grubb Jr. and V. V. Pravosudov. (2015). Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

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

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