By Larry Czajkoski
From deep mixed woods to rural backyards, this friendly and active little bird makes itself at home throughout the year throughout all of North Carolina. It is noisy and sociable, quite tame in human company, and fearless among other small birds with which it associates. Its cheerful calls of “peter, peter, peter” ring out even in midwinter, chasing away any cold winter blahs. It has a variety of whistle notes too, similar to those of the cardinal and wren. Its harsh, raspy, scolding notes are similar to the chickadee.
The Tufted Titmouse (sometimes referred to as the tomtit) is 6 ½ inches long and dressed primly across its upperparts in gray, with a creamy breast and rusty flanks. It has a black-button eye which stands out against its white cheek, a distinct blackish forehead, and a pale crest adorns its head.
The Titmouse is nonmigratory and able to survive harsh weather if sufficient food is available.
They eat mostly insects and seeds, depending on time of year. I recently installed a squirrel-proof bird feeder in my yard (Yes, it is actually squirrel proof), and filled it with Black Oil Sunflower Seed. Besides enjoying watching the squirrel’s trying to get to the seed, which they could not, the sunflower seeds drew a variety of birds including a large flock of Tufted Titmouse. Notice the Tufted Titmouse in the photo with its talons clinging on to the branch and at the same time clutching the shell of a sunflower seed while it munches on the kernel from inside.
Winter is a wonderful time to provide food for our bird friends. Whether you use sunflower seeds, suet, or peanuts in your feeder the Tufted Titmouse will make itself at home in your back yard too.