Return to Main Page   Dakota Birder Blog    

Tufted Titmouse

Baeolophus bicolor

Length: 6.5 inches Wingspan: 10.5 inches Seasonality: Rare Visitor
ID Keys: Gray overall with obvious crest, white below, small rusty area on sides, black above bill.

Tufted Titmouse - Baeolophus bicolorThe Tufted Titmouse is a hyperactive little bird of forests of the eastern United States.  Active during all seasons, it may even sing it's peter-peter-peter song during the dead of winter.  They readily come to feeders and have a strong preference for sunflower seeds.  They have been expanding their range to the north in recent decades, a trend that may be helped by the abundance of bird feeders.

Habitat: Primarily found in mature deciduous forest, but also found in suburban areas if mature trees are present.  

Diet:  Varied, although insects make up a large portion of the diet.  Will also eat spiders, snails, fruits, berries, nuts, and seeds.

Behavior: Very active when foraging, hopping from branch to branch, hanging upside down, and sometimes hovering in flight.  Will cache food items for later retrieval and consumption.

Breeding: No confirmed breeding in South Dakota, although breeding does occur in surrounding states.  Within their breeding range, the Tufted Titmouse nests in a natural cavity in a tree, or in an old woodpecker hole.  The nesting cavity is lined with softer material, with a preference for animal hair.  Tufted Titmouse may even pluck the hair from living mammals to use for the nest.  The female lays 5 or 6 eggs, and she alone incubates them.  When the eggs hatch, the female initially stays with the young while the male feeds the family.  Soon both parents help to feed the young.  The young leave the nest after about 16 days.

Song:  Strong high-pitched peter-peter-peter.  Click here to listen to the Tufted Titmouse song.

Migration: A permanent resident throughout its range in the eastern United States.

Interactive eBird map: Click here to acces an interactive eBird map of Tufted Titmouse sightings

Similar Species: Black-crested Titmouse, Juniper Titmouse, Oak Titmouse (none of which are found in South Dakota).

Feeders: Will attend feeders for sunflower seeds and suet. 

Conservation Status: Populations are currently expanding northward, and increasing in number.  The IUCN lists the Tufted Titmouse as a species of "Least Concern."

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Tufted Titmouse

2) WhatBird - Tufted Titmouse

3) Audubon Guide - Tufted Titmouse

Photo Information: Photo taken by Bill Thompson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Tufted Titmouse - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare Visitor in South Dakota.  The species' normal range is south and east of the state.

Additional Tufted Titmouse Photos (coming soon!)