Wildlife Lesson-Welcoming Mice in the Garden

“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.


titmouse hit collage

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?


titmouse collage

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.




And don’t forget to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count coming February 12-15, 2016.  You can read how to participate here.





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.

30 Replies to “Wildlife Lesson-Welcoming Mice in the Garden”

  1. I adore these little birds. They are year-round residence in my neck of the woods and I always enjoy their antics. In winter it is fun to watch them banging the sunflower seeds on the tree limbs trying to open them. I’m glad the one that flew into your window survived. It’s amazing really after hitting so hard but I suppose as long as they don’t break their neck they have a good chance at recovery.

    1. Wonderful to hear you too love the ‘mice’, Karin! They do have such big personalities….I am amazed as well at how resilient birds are. Thankfully most survive the hits.

  2. Great post, Donna. Love all of those photos. I have a closely related species, the Black-crest Titmouse here in Texas and they’re some of my favorite birds to watch. Interesting that yours hang out with the woodpeckers. I’ve noticed that the pair that visit my feeders, feed in tandem with Carolina Chickadees–another darling bird to watch. I hope your stunned Titmouse was able to reconnect with his mate and live a long life. Thanks for joining in–I really enjoyed this post.

    1. I love knowing about other similar species…your ‘mice’ sound delightful Tina. I had to assume he reconnected with his mate. She wasn’t too far away. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  3. You scared me there for a minute, when I read the title of your post. This is the ONLY mouse that I would want anywhere near me or my garden! Beautiful photos!

    1. I couldn’t resist the title Debbie, so I was glad the post eased your fears. We do not welcome wild animals into the house especially mice! We never see mice in the garden although they are there. We do see voles frequently.

  4. I love these little guys. One of the pleasures of our feeder is to watch them in action. I’ve counted 17 different kinds of birds that visit us. I can see that you are enjoying them as much as we do:0

  5. Birdstrike. A sound which makes my heart wince.
    We have lost a few to it. They have broken their necks – which says something about the speed they can muster.
    Here we are seeing birds revelling in the blessed rain. And I am too.

  6. Oh, how glad I am to have seen these mice, I love than much more than those I was expecting to find … I was scrolling down the page so slowly !!!!
    May your weekend be blessed with joy, my deraest Donna,
    sending love and dear hugs to you

  7. Hello, wonderful post and images of the Titmouse. They are sweet birds to have in your garden and yard. The quote is a little sad but, I am glad there was a happy ending for your bird.. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

  8. I find the expressive faces of the tufted titmice endearingly comical. A few years ago, a garden blogger (I no longer remember whom) posted a photo of a tufted titmouse pulling hair out of the rump of her startled golden retriever. 🙂

  9. Oh, I love tufted titmice. We sometimes get them in our backyard. I didn’t realize the mase actually means small bird. I wonder what mouse means? Thanks for all the explanations and your story about the one who hit your door.

  10. We see a few of these at our feeders but right now we have dozens of goldfinches, warblers and house finches. We have to fill the feeders every few days. you took some great photos. Enjoy your week! Hugs!

  11. Coming to you from Mosaic Monday. I really enjoyed reading about the tufted titmouse since we do not have them here in Colorado. I have seen in the Texas. They would be a lot of fun to watch and photograph here.

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