Tufted Titmouse

Paridae (titmice) in the order Passeriformes

Adult upperparts are bluish gray with a crest and a black forehead. Underparts are white, with buff sides and flanks. Song is a whistled “peter-peter-peter” with the first syllables higher. Calls include harsh scolding notes and higher pitched “tseets” and whistles.

Length: 6½ inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Common in trees in forests, woodlands, parks, and suburban areas. This species, with its loud voice, is frequently the most apparent member of winter foraging flocks in forests and woodlands. Although a year-round resident in our state, it is most noticeable during the winter months.
Titmice forage for insects, seeds, and berries and are frequent visitors to bird feeders. Many birds gather into mixed-species foraging flocks in the winter months. Forest and woodland birds usually form these flocks in the morning and slowly move through the forest in search of overwintering insects and spiders and their eggcases and cocoons. Flocks often contain titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and more. Each species forages in a particular part of a tree or shrub.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Common permanent resident.
Life cycle: 
A cavity nester that cannot excavate its own holes, the tufted titmouse relies on natural holes, nest boxes, or on nest cavities left behind by woodpeckers (many species depend on standing dead trees for nest space). Clutches are usually 3-9 eggs, with one brood a year. Incubation lasts about 2 weeks, and the young fledge about 2 weeks later. When breeding season is over, titmice usually stay together on their territory as a pair, instead of flocking.
Human connections: 
In 1904, Neltje Blanchan poetically commented, “Titmice always see to it you are not lonely as you walk through the woods.” As common visitors at bird feeders, titmice also bring cheer to snowbound Missourians. Titmice are drab in color, but not in spirit; their effect on people’s moods is real.
Ecosystem connections: 
In Missouri and in other parts of the world, mixed-species winter foraging flocks often organize themselves around a drab-colored species with a loud ringing voice. In Missouri this is the tufted titmouse. This bird’s presence contributes to the success of other species in the flock.