Year of the Titmouse

By December 16, 2010 Birds 5 Comments

Some years you get cardinals, some years you get chickadees…this year has been a bumper crop of titmice. I get to reflect on this, because it’s “wintry mix” out there, that nasty combination of snow and sleet and freezing rain, which makes for lousy driving but great window birdwatching.  (I’m not entirely sure of the reason–I think it’s because it’s so nasty out that they come to the reliable food source, i.e. my feeders. Maybe not, because the big pileated was out too, and I don’t have anything that would tempt HIM.)

Lotta birds. Whole lotta titmice.

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It was a very light year for cardinals–normally they’re a reliable visitor, but I’d go for a month without seeing one recently. Today, however, there’s at least four out there, the females drab, the males what Kevin describes as “I’m red! Screw you!” which y’know, kinda says it all. And there’s a Pepperidge Farm assortment worth of sparrows, one lone winter goldfinch, and a whole lot of juncos, one of which is taking a bath in the puddles left by the ruts in the gravel driveway. (No, dude! It’s too cold! You’re gonna freeze your little butt-feathers off!) Even the blue jays that so rarely find their way out here are hopping through the tall pines and sipping from the puddles.

And titmice. A good dozen or more titmice. I know we had some breeding in one of the dead tree cavities, but I didn’t expect them ALL to stay! (They’re welcome, of course, but…I may need more birdseed!)

It’s not just the birds, either. I spent ten minutes watching a pair of beer-colored whitetail deer pick their way through the yard, mouth the anise tree, find it uninteresting, and finally plant themselves under the birdfeeder, to delicately lip up the spilled seed. It’s Cajun-style sunflower and safflower mix, supposed to be too hot for mammals, but as usual, that proves laughable.  (Really, you can’t win–either it’s so hot that you’re actually inciting afflicted squirrels to claw their eyes out or something equally wretched, or it’s merely a light condiment for the jaded rodent palate.) Eventually the deer wandered off, and now I should probably put my coat on and go put out some more suet or something because it’s quite a mob scene out there today.


  • I wish the deer would come eat my spilled seed, but I’m too far from the edge of the village for that to happen. Never seen one in my garden, just crossing the road in front of me as I apply the brakes in a hurry.

    We don’t get titmice or cardinals here (UK) but I have clouds of sparrows and goldfinches and assorted tits (blue, coal, great). And the inevitable robins, and starlings and blackbirds and thrushes and woodpigeons. Hoping not to see any fieldfares this year — it’s a really hard winter if I do — but they came visiting last year, so I think I’ll lay in some cheap apples and suchlike just in case… No need to lay in provisions for the sparrowhawk: s/he manages very well without.

  • Helen S. Wright says:

    @Ursula: Weird. I’ve noticed a similar trend in birds, this winter. Fewer cardinals than usual, more titmice…and I’m in Georgia. I wonder if it’s got something to do with the kind of weather the overall Southeast shared this year?

    @Helen: Great tits, eh? Giggle! I wish we got English robins. The American variety are like obnoxious, flying rats, not the adorable, chubby, sweet little fluffballs you guys get!

  • Laura says:

    I adore the titmice, they are quite prevalent here every year and I just love them. Bouncing about with their little crests up and alert. Probably my favorite winter visitor. 🙂

  • I was recently thinking the same thing…tons of Titmice. Also a lot of Starlings-which I’d rather not have visit.. Love your art 🙂

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