BirdWire is our FREE monthly e-newsletter, available by email and RSS feed. This issue is being served via RSS. If you are accessing a back issue, please note that it may contain advertisements and offers that have expired. If you would like to receive BirdWire by e-mail, sign up here.
By Kyle Carlsen
Contributor | Bird Watcher's Digest
Titmice are noisy and sociable, quite tame around humans, and fearless among other small birds with which they frequently associate. Like their close cousins the chickadees, titmice are the watchdogs of the woodlot or backyard, often alerting other birds to the presence of a predator or intruder. Once they start their scolding calls, everyone else seems to get on board. Also like chickadees, titmice frequently cache seeds in crevices, such as the bark of a tree, for retrieval months later. Such behavior helps them make it through the winter.
What else makes titmice awesome? Let's take a quiz and find out!
How many titmouse species exist worldwide?
Oak and juniper titmice were formerly considered one species. What was it called?
a) Western titmouse
b) Plain titmouse
c) Gray titmouse
d) LeConte's titmouse
Which of these feeder offerings is best for attracting titmice?
b) Sunflower seeds
d) All of the above
Why do tufted titmice have black forehead patches?
a) To confuse insect prey
b) To reduce glare
c) To show expression
d) To exert dominance over other titmice
Which is the smallest titmouse?
a) Juniper titmouse
b) Oak titmouse
c) Tufted titmouse
d) Bridled titmouse
True or false?
Titmice migrate incredibly long distances, wintering as far south as Colombia.
True or false?
Tufted titmice love to line their nests with soft hair.
True or false?
Titmice are named for small gray rodents.
Editor | Bird Watcher's Digest
Wintertime, and the livin' ain't easy. Birds are hungry, and the snow's piling high. We all know by now that birds can survive without our help in the winter. Some ornithologists have even suggested that bird feeding is more beneficial to us (humans) than it is to the birds. Be that as it may, studies have shown that birds with access to bird feeders in winter survive at a higher rate than birds without access to feeders. The difference between the haves and the have-nots is not huge, but it's there. Feeding birds in winter, if done right, is a good thing for the birds (and for us, too).
10. Make sure seed is accessible and dry. Hopper or tube feeders are good at protecting seed from wet weather, and they dole out food as it is eaten. Sweep snow off of platform feeders, or clear a place on the ground where you can scatter seed for ground-feeding species such as sparrows, towhees, juncos, and doves. If snow build-up is a problem...
9. Make a windbreak. A few winters ago we had a week of dry, blowing snow. The drifts were five feet deep, almost burying the feeders. We couldn't possibly keep the feeders free of snow, so we switched tactics. We made a windbreak using our old Christmas tree, the remains of our brush pile, and two large pieces of plywood. We placed the tree on its side near the brush pile. The plywood pieces were wedged into the snow and the brush pile to serve as walls that drastically reduced the wind. Behind this contraption (on the sheltered side) we cleared the snow from a patch of ground and scattered seed. The birds swarmed to our new, wind-free spot. Which brings me to another good idea...
8. Keep extra feeders for use in bad weather. We keep an extra-large-capacity tube feeder in the garage for use when nasty weather comes. It not only gives the birds another place to eat, which means more birds can eat at one time, but it also cuts down on our trips outside for refilling the feeders. Other extras to consider having: peanut feeder, suet feeder, satellite feeder (for the small birds to use), and a hopper feeder.