A rather rare sighting in our neck of the woods, the tufted titmouse has been spotted on a few separate occasions here in the greater Ottawa area. Last week, numerous sightings were recorded and submitted to eBird from the Fitzroy Provincial Park area along the Ottawa River as well as a few sightings across the river in Quyon and Gatineau Park.
These cavity-nesting birds are social and can often be found flitting across treetops foraging for food with other species such as nuthatches, chickadees and woodpeckers. Much the same as nuthatches, these small birds can perform some amazing acrobatic feats, often hanging upside down or sideways as they investigate the innards of food sources such as cones. These birds can and will be a permanent fixture to any backyard feeder, collecting, shelling and hoarding seeds close by for later consumption.
With the ability to seem larger than other small birds, the tufted titmouse sports a large, stout head and thick neck. Their plumage is made up of a grey, almost silvery colouring with a tell-tale rust-coloured patch down their side flanks. The pointed crest atop their head makes them easily identifiable and they also sport a black patch just above their thick, seed-busting bill.
Where to Find the Tufted Titmouse
Aside from along the Ottawa River, these small birds are not often found as far north as the Ottawa area. Instead, these year-round residents inhabit much of the eastern United States, reaching as far west as eastern Texas. Their range to the north does stretch into portions of southern Ontario, but to spot them in this area of the province, is as we said, quite the treat.
Another small bird with a big voice. Their song, denoted as a peter-peter-peter type whistle can be rhymed off as many of 35 times in a 60 second timeframe. This fast and repeatable song is also performed by females, but with not as much bravado. Their calls are almost chickadee like, their most common sounding much like a tsee-day-day-day sounding call.