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Oak titmouse.

Courtesy of Alan Vernon  CC BY 2.0 generic License. Originally posted to Flickr.

Birds of the world-9  Five species of American Titmouse

Introduction.----This series of articles look at the birds of the world that occur within a particular genera. These birds will take us to all parts of the world. In this article we review five species of Titmouse that occur in the United States of America. They belong to the genus Baeoluphus in the family Paridae of the order of birds known as the Passeriformes {perching birds} They were once including in the genus Parus but are now placed {by most authorities} into the present genus by the American Ornithologist's Union. we commence our review with the Bridled Titmouse.

Bridled Titmouse. Baeolophus wollweberi

Courtesy of Dominic Sherony CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic License   originally posted to Flickr.

Bridled Titmouse. Baeolophus wollweberi

This species ia a small song bird between four and a half and five inches {11.5-12.7 cm } long. it is of a somewhat greyish colour with a black and white face, black bib and a black crest, the crest is sometimes greyish  beneath. The bill is short and stout.

The preferred habitat of this lively and energetic little bird is the oak or oak/juniper mixed woodland often with associated water in the region. They occur in the mountain regions in the eastern Arizona and also the extreme south west of New Mexico.

They inhabit the mixed oak,Pine and Juniper woods in forested mountains at altitudes of between 1,000-3,000 meters, but have been encountered at altitudes as low as five hundred and sixty meters in Oaxaca. More rarely and especially in the hardest winter months they may occur in willow near water bodies and other scrub on the desert fringes.

Their diet includes insects, caterpillars,seeds,nuts and berries.  

Bridled titmouse.

Public domain courtesy of naturepicsonline.com

Breeding habits of the Bridled titmouse.

After flocks break up after the winter the pairs arrive at their nesting territories. The nest is located in a hole in a dead tree or stump either in a natural cavity or in an old woodpecker hole.The height of the entrance may vary  generally from four to thirty feet above the ground. They will readily take to nest boxes. The nest is an extensive lining of soft materials such as feathers, plant down, lichens,catkins or similar materials.

The female will deposit five to seven unmarked white eggs. It is thought that the female undertakes the task of incubation with some slight relief from the male. There is little known about the length of the incubation period or of the time it takes for the young to become fully independent.

They have a limited range within the USA, however, within that range they are very common and the numbers are thought to be stable.

Oak titmouse in filtered light.

Courtesy of Ingrid Taylar California USA. CC BY 2.0 Generic License.

Oak  Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus.

This amusing and somewhat plain species is an active little bird which inhabits the oak woods, pinyon/juniper and local river woods and shade trees. Along the Pacific Seaboard, they occur mostly in Oak woodland  and also well wooded suburbs. Inland they may well occur in woodlands dominated by pine or juniper.

They have a small crest and their general plumage colour is grey tinged with brown. The face is plain and the under parts a much lighter grey. Both sexes are similar. They were once regarded as the same species as the Juniper Titmouse {below}, but in 1996 the American Ornithologists Union  split them as two different species due to the distinct differences in song, preferred habitat and genetic makeup.

They forage by flitting around branches and larger twigs,sometimes hanging upside down very acrobatically.  Their main diet consists of insects and small invertebrates fruit, and nuts. Hard nuts are held by their feet and they split it by pounding the nut with their short but stout little bill.

Oak Titmouse leaving nest.

Courtesy of Alan Vernon CC BY-2.0 generic License Originally posted on Flickr

 

Breeding habits of the Oak titmouse.

The nest site is a hole in a tree or other structure such as a fence post, which the female selects. The nest is composed of grass,weeds,moss etc, with a good lining of soft material such as feathers or animal hair.

the female will deposit six to seven white eggs which may have a light spotting of reddish brown. The female undertakes the task of incubation which will last for a period of about fourteen to sixteen days. The resulting chicks are fed by both parents until they are ready to leave the nest in a further sixteen to twenty one days. 

Although they are very common in parts of their range it is thought there may be in decline in numbers in recent decades. 

Juniper Titmouse

Courtesy of Tony Randell CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic License. originally posted to Flickr uploaded to Commons by Itshears.

Juniper Titmouse. B.

This is the species that in 1996 was separated from the previous species by the American Ornithologists Union. this is also a small grey bird,grey tinged with brown and a small crest. The face is plain grey the undersides a lighter colour.  The oak titmouse generally has a browner back than this species. It is a species that inhabits the region of the Grand Basin but is also found from south eastern Oregon  and central Colorado,south to the eastern Mojave Desert in California and central Arizona.

It inhabits open woodlands of dry Pinyon { a type of Pine} mixed with Juniper. This species like its relatives is a hole nesting species either in natural cavities or old woodpecker excavations. It will take readily to nest boxes.It breeds between March and April with the peak activity from April into May. The female will deposit three to nine eggs which are incubated for a period of fourteen to seventeen days. Once again it is the female that undertakes the bulk of the incubating. The resulting chicks will be cared for by both parents for a further fifteen to twenty days. The family group tend to stay together for another three to four weeks after leaving the nest.

Tufted Titmouse.

Courtesy of Putneypics { Kertsti Nebelsiek } CC BY-2.0 Generic License. Originally posted to Flickr.

Tufted Titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor.

This species has greyish upper parts and white under parts, a white face and a grey crest. The forehead is dark the bill is short and stout. The flanks are rufous. 

This species occurs on the eastern side of the United States and they are believed to be expanding northwards. Like all their congeners  they are active little birds foraging acrobatically on branches and twigs, they feed on insects,especially caterpillars ,and also nuts and berries.They are known to store food for later use.

The breeding habits,nest and eggs are similar to those species mentioned above. There are no current conservation concerns.

Black crested titmouse.

Courtesy of Alan or Elaine Wilson  { naturepicsonline}  Public Domain CCO License.

Black crested titmouse. Baeolophus atricristatus.

This bird is also referred to as the Mexican titmouse and was once considered to be a sub-species of the tufted titmouse {above},it was not recognized as a species until 2002. It is a species encountered in southern Texas, Oklahoma and east central Mexico.

It five and a half to six inches {14-15 cm } long. It has grey upper parts and a whitish belly and under parts. The male sports a long dark crest that is usually held erect. The crest of the female is much lighter in colour. The bill is short and stout. The legs are a dark grey colour. The face is white the eye dark. The nape and head is grey.

These arboreal birds may be found within their range, wherever trees grow and they do not seem to have a preference about the type of trees they are. Like its relatives it feeds on insects and their larvae small invertebrates,nuts and seeds.

They also nest in tree holes and cavities either natural or made by another species such as the woodpecker. They will also utilize holes that are man made such as fence posts and bird boxes. The nest eggs and breeding cycle  are similar  to those mentioned above. There are no current conservation concerns.

Oak Titmouse has a loud spring call.Courtesy of SB Fledgeling. Standard YouTube License.

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