Other Free Encyclopedias » Animal Life Resource » Birds » Long-Tailed Titmice: Aegithalidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Bushtit (psaltriparus Minimus): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, DIET, LONG-TAILED TITMICE AND PEOPLE

Long-Tailed Titmice: Aegithalidae - Bushtit (psaltriparus Minimus): Species Account

nest bushtits birds range

Physical characteristics: Bushtits range in length from 4 to 4.5 inches (10 to 11.4 centimeters), with an average weight of 0.18 to 0.21 ounces (5 to 6 grams). They are tiny birds, and like other long-tailed titmice have loose feathers that can result in a fluffy appearance, especially when spreading their plumage. The bushtits that inhabit the interiors of their range are usually gray on top with paler gray undersides; the coastal birds have brown caps. Southwestern members of this species have black masks that go all the way to their ears. This variety was once considered a separate species, the black-eared bushtit, but is no longer categorized separately. Female bushtits are known for their cream to yellowish eyes, different from the males and young that have dark brown eyes.


Geographic range: The bushtit is commonly found in western North America, along the west coast from Mexico through the United States, and to the northern parts of British Columbia.


Habitat: The bushtit most commonly inhabits deciduous forests, where trees undergo seasonal change, and mixed woodlands, as well as parks and gardens. They can be found in suburbs and even in cities within their range.


Diet: As with other family members, the bushtit is primarily an insectivore, feeding on insects and spiders, as well as occasionally eating fruit and berries.


Behavior and reproduction: Bushtits are social birds that tend to live and travel in large flocks. They roost together, especially during the winter when they attempt to conserve body heat by huddling together. When spring arrives, the young leave the larger flock to establish their own colonies in another territory. Their song is a high thin call that resembles a buzzy, excited twittering sound. Some also are known to have a thin, trilled sort of call.

Breeding occurs from January to June, with courtships, mating behaviors, that are brief and include posturing, posing, and calling, with no particular song yet discovered. The nests they create are elaborate—a pendant nest that resembles a pocket. They can take from two weeks to almost two months to complete. Nests are hung from a hood of a woven spider web, which is hanging from a branch. They are monogamous (muh-NAH-guh-mus), having only one mate, with both male and female building the nest. Should the pair be disturbed while they are in the process of nest building, or laying or incubating, sitting on, eggs, it is not uncommon that they leave the nest site, even change mates, and build a new nest. The incubation of the eggs lasts for twelve days and is done by both sexes, with both of the pair roosting on the eggs in the nest at night. Each clutch averages five to seven eggs. The young are altricial (al-TRISH-uhl), helpless, blind and naked when hatched. The young stay in the nest for fourteen to fifteen days and are fed by both sexes. Sometimes helpers are present in caring for the young, but rarely are they from a previous brood. They have two broods a year.


Bushtits and people: Bushtits provide interesting entertainment to people and birdwatchers due to their cute appearance and fluffing of their feathers.


Conservation status: This species is not threatened, and has been known to be increasing in population in certain areas of its range. ∎


FOR MORE INFORMATION

Books:

Alsop, Fred J. III. Birds of North America. London and New York: DK Publishing, 2001.

Campbell, Bruce, and Elizabeth Lack, eds. A Dictionary of Birds. Vermillion, SD: Buteo Books, 1985.

Elphick, Chris, John B. Dunning Jr., and David Allen Sibley, eds. The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 2001.


Web sites:

"Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus." BirdWeb: Seattle Audubon's Online Guide to the Birds of Washington State. http://www.birdweb.org/birdweb/species.asp?id=332 (accessed on June 20, 2004).

"Family Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)." University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/classification/Aegithalidae.html (accessed on June 20, 2004).

"Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalidae)." Bird Families of the World. http://www.montereybay.com/creagrus/longtailedtits.html (accessed on June 20, 2004).

Michaels, Patricia A. "Bushtit (Aegithalidae) Picture and ID." Green Nature. http://greennature.com/article908.html (accessed on June 20, 2004).

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