“The bird is powered by its own life and by its motivation.”
~A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
You can tell by looking at this picture, these are not the mice you were probably thinking of when you read the title of this post. Those mice are free to roam the garden and wild areas. We rarely see them, except when they come in the house in winter. We did find their access and have so far put a stop to that. Sorry, those mice have to stay outside.
But this little mouse, pictured here, is a Tufted Titmouse or Baeolophus bicolor. These birds are common to the eastern US, and can be seen acrobatically flitting around gardens and feeders all year. They are considered a small bird, 5 inches, but seem larger than other small birds like finches.
Since they tend to hang with chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers, I was not surprised to see them in the garden in early December when these other birds were hanging from the suet feeder.
They heralded their appearance by noisily chasing off a Downy Woodpecker who was happily feeding on suet. The Titmice had been at my neighbor’s feeders two doors down. But their curiosity got to them, and they had to see what was all the rage at our house….that rage would be suet as it keeps the woodpeckers and chickadees happy all day.
I usually see these cute birds in spring just before the songbirds make a reappearance from their warmer winter homes. They come to the feeders, like in winter, and leave the feeders behind once the insects are out and plentiful. They especially like caterpillars, beetles, ants, spiders and wasps. Of course they won’t turn down seeds, berries and nuts.
The one other encounter I have had with Tufted Titmice was a few springs ago when one ran right into our glass French Door….which had grids in the glass. I had heard the ruckus of two Titmice squabbling and flying around fighting. Then suddenly that loud bang on glass….you know when you hear it, it’s a bird strike. It was apparent this bird had not been watching where he was going as he was fighting.
I jumped up and looked for the bird. I saw it laying upright on the patio. But as you can see from the picture, its neck was bent. I was sure it had broken its neck as it was dazed…unmoving. I was reluctant to go out and see if it was alive. I didn’t want to scare it any further. I tend to give birds some time to recover if they strike the house, and if they don’t I know the inevitable conclusion.
He took a long time to straighten, probably a good 15- 20 minutes. And then more time to get over the concussion he probably had. After all he was flying full force in that bird fight. His mate was calling to him for most of the time. She did move on eventually as it may have appeared he was dead to her. When he finally flew off, I wished him well and silently told him to please be more careful.
We don’t see a Titmouse nest as they use tree cavities, especially old woodpecker holes or nests (we don’t have any in our trees yet)….which explains why they hang around woodpeckers. They can pick up a good, used home quickly.
I expect to see these cute birds out and about soon as spring starts to show itself soon. After all we are supposed to get an early spring, aren’t we?
Here are some interesting facts and folklore about the Tufted Titmouse:
- The common name Titmouse comes from the Old Icelandic word ‘titr’, meaning something small, and from the Old English ‘mase’ meaning small bird.
- Tufted Titmice seem to always choose the largest seeds they can when foraging. In fall and winter they often hoard these seeds in bark crevices.
- Tufted Titmouse pairs do not gather into larger flocks once breeding is done like many other birds. Sometimes a juvenile will remain with the parents for a time even to help them raise young fledglings.
- Tufted Titmice often line their inner nest with hair, sometimes taken right from living animals. They have found hair from raccoons, opossums, mice, woodchucks, squirrels, rabbits, livestock, pets, and even humans in their nests.
- In Cherokee Indian legend, the Titmouse is regarded as a messenger; and has the reputation of a liar.
What wonderful critter surprises are you seeing these days?
With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday. I am also linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday, and Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every week.
I leave you with another thought about Life and Birds like the Titmouse. Feel free to download the photo and share.
All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-16. Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.