Birds – Tufted Titmouse

(Parus bicolor)

Called also : CRESTED TITMOUSE ; CRESTED TOMTIT

Length—6 to 6.5 inches. About the size of the English sparrow.

Male and Female—Crest high and pointed. Leaden or ash-gray above; darkest on wings and tail. Frontlet, bill, and shoulders black; space between eyes gray. Sides of head dull white. Under parts light gray; sides yellowish, tinged with red.

Range—United States east of plains, and only rarely seen so far north as New England.

Migrations—October. April. Winter resident, but also found throughout the year in many States.

” A noisy titmouse is Jack Frost’s trumpeter ” may be one of those few weather-wise proverbs with a grain of truth in them. As the chickadee comes from the woods with the frost, so it may be noticed his cousin, the crested titmouse, is in more noisy evidence throughout the winter.

One might sometimes think his whistle, like a tugboat’s, worked by steam. But how effectually nesting cares alone can silence it in April !

Titmice always see to it you are not lonely as you walk through the woods. This lordly tomtit, with his jaunty crest, keeps up a persistent whistle at you as he flits from tree to tree, leading you deeper into the forest, calling out ” Here-here-here!” and looking like a pert and jaunty little blue jay, minus his gay clothes. Mr. Nehrling translates one of the calls ” Heedle-deedle-dee-dle-dee I” and another ” Peto peto-peto-daytee-daytee ! ” But it is at the former, sharply whistled as the crested titmouse gives it, that every dog pricks up his ears.

Comparatively little has been written about this bird, because it is not often found in New England, where most of the bird litterateurs have lived. South of New York State, however, it is a common resident, and much respected for the good work it does in destroying injurious insects, though it is more fond of varying its diet with nuts, berries, and seeds than that all-round benefactor, the chickadee.