First Time In Fifteen Years!
For the last fifteen years that I’ve been feeding birds in my back yard I’ve gotten to enjoy so many different species. Most were the birds that are here year round. Others, like my most recent Rose Breasted Grosbeaks, are just passing through to one place or another. I’ve had nest boxes up for almost all that time and have had mostly Carolina chickadees and Eastern bluebirds as tenants. I’ve had Carolina Wrens make a nest in the crook of my old wooden fence one year. I also once had a House Wren make a nest in one of my smaller houses too. But for the most part, my nest boxes have been used by bluebirds and chickadees depending on who got there first. I have NEVER had a tufted titmouse make a nest anywhere I could see it even though I have plenty of them in my back yard all year.
That is, until this year.
Who’s That Checking Out the Bluebird Box?
A couple weeks ago, I was doing my daily mindfulness practice of just watching the birds in my back yard. You can learn so much about what’s going on by just being still and paying attention. I’ve seen all kinds of birds land on each of my boxes and look around a little before disappearing never to be seen there again.
This time it was a Tufted Titmouse. She landed on the box and did the usual looking around and flew off. Didn’t think anything of it.
Then, she was back and looking in the hole. Did that for about a minute and then was sticking her head IN the box. As curious as these little birds are I’ve never seen a tufted titmouse this interested in a nest box before. Before I knew it, she was darting half her body in and then just went on in. She spent a few seconds inside and stuck her head out. I’m assuming she was checking the view-LOL! A little bit later she flew off and that was all I saw of her that day.
Tufted Titmouse House Construction Begins. Sort Of.
Over the next few days, I was in heaven to see her (according to the guide, the female does ALL of the nest building) taking little bits and pieces of stuff into the nest. Because this was completely new to me, I was very careful not to check often and only after I’d seen her finish building that day. The guides I read said it would take between 6-11 days for her to finish. The guides also said that tufted titmice can abandon their eggs if they feel threatened. I tried to keep my “peeking” to an absolute minimum.
She kept at it, little by little, for the next week and then just stopped. Nothing was added for another week and I was sad that this may be just a false nest. I let some more time pass and still the nest was not touched. After my chickadees latest clutch had fledged I cleaned out both boxes. I was really glad I did because the box the titmouse was building in had been overrun with ants. Got all that taken care of and moved the box three feet back so it wasn’t in the same place. I also put some petroleum jelly underneath the baffle so ants couldn’t make it to the box but birds or squirrels wouldn’t get any on them.
Waiting for Some More Chickadees
I resigned myself to the fact that my incredible tufted titmouse nest was just not going to happen. As far as I knew, tufted titmice don’t build false nests. It bothered me I couldn’t figure why else they would start one and abandon it. Don’t get me wrong, I love chickadees and look forward to them nesting in my boxes every year. Still, I really thought I was going to house a brood of titmice I had never had before.
I just decided this was not going to be the year for this.
Next up: We WILL have a tufted titmouse nest!
In part 2, I’ll talk about the next successful attempt the tufted titmouse mom made at building a home for her little ones. I’ll show you the incredibly fast nest completion pics and a short video of her going in and out of the box. Stay tuned for that!
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Thanks for reading and watching!
PS In case you’re wondering, I’ve had an affinity for titmice for some time now. Going back to and before this video I shot of one my wife and I helped out. Have a look!