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The titmouse makes its home in many parts of North America. There are several species of titmice, including the tufted titmouse and the black-crested titmouse. Both have a signature tufted crest on their head that looks very similar to, of all things, a mohawk. The titmouse has a rust-colored outline, an off-white chest, and a black forehead that’s hard to miss. Their song is well-known and famous for being highly eclectic and resonant. How long do titmice live? We have that answer for you below, as well as interesting facts about this relatively common bird species.
Because many are eaten as nestlings, the average lifespan of a titmouse is 2.1 years. If, however, they manage to reach adulthood, titmice can have a much longer lifespan. Indeed, the longest-lived titmouse on record lived to be 13 years. Below we will take a closer look at the many factors influencing a titmouse’s life expectancy.
Below are some factors that can influence, extend, or cut short, a titmouse’s life. Many are similar to other small birds in the wild, although titmice do have several significant differences.
As with all living creatures, titmice need nutritious food on a regular basis. The good news is that titmice are omnivores, meaning they eat a wide variety of foods. They include several varieties of berries and other small fruits. Titmice also eat nuts, grains, and seeds and have an appetite for different types of insects. Lastly, a titmouse will happily eat a snail if they get the chance. You’ll commonly find titmice at bird feeders, although they usually grab and go, preferring to eat where it’s safer. If a titmouse doesn’t have access to a good supply of food in winter, it will often live a shorter life.
The titmouse is a highly adaptive bird, although they prefer deciduous woodlands. For that reason, you can spot titmice in many swampy parts of North America like Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi. They seek out moist woodlands but can also do well in the suburbs and in a big city. They are mostly found in temperate and terrestrial habitats, and their preferred biome is typically forest.
Since the 1940s, the titmouse has expanded its range significantly. While the tough birds were once known only from Ohio down to the river drainage of the Mississippi, they’ve spread as far north as Canada and along the eastern seaboard of the United States. They also do very well in the Midwest and have expanded to southern Ontario.
The titmouse is known as a “cavity nester,” meaning they build their homes in a cavity, or hole, in trees. They will often use holes in trees that were pecked by woodpeckers. Typically, their nests are small and lined with various materials. Moss, bark, feathers, string, dead leaves, and more are used by the male and female titmouse to build their nest.
Titmice aren’t attracted to birdhouses for several reasons. First and most importantly, titmice like their nest to be 30 to 40 feet high in a tree. Most homeowners won’t be able to place a birdhouse that high. Also, titmice don’t like to fly across open spaces as it puts them at risk of attack from predators. For that reason, they usually seek a cavity in a tree covered by a dense canopy of greenery.
All species of titmice are small, at about 6 inches long (16 cm) and a little less than half a pound (21 grams) on average. Although small, titmice are very hearty and strong birds. For example, they have leg muscles that allow them to hang from branches upside down, where they can get food other species of birds often miss. Because of their small size, titmice are often victims of cats, snakes, and several birds of prey.
Male and female titmice are hard to differentiate since they look very similar. Male tufted titmice, for example, have a larger forehead patch than females. They are also more dominant than females, as is typical in the animal world. Both sexes, as mentioned earlier, help build the nest. Both sing, also, although the male does sing more.
Since they aren’t commonly kept as pets, very little (if any) captive breeding is being done with titmice. Researchers and scientists believe that the various titmouse species are all genetically healthy and biologically stable. Furthermore, no selective breeding programs involving titmice are being performed by humans.
As of this writing, there is no recorded breeding history of titmice since they aren’t typically kept as human pets.
Few studies have been done on the various titmouse species that have looked closely at their healthcare needs. However, they have several natural predators, which keep their numbers in check. As mentioned earlier, many nestlings are eaten by predators, including snakes, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, and opossums. Predatory birds like hawks and owls will attack adult titmice. However, the domestic cat is the most dangerous of their predators.
Since titmice aren’t typically kept as pets, it’s difficult to determine their age. Some say that the tuft on their heads begins to change color as they age. However, there is very little research or evidence of how the bird grows older and the changes it goes through when it does.
Statistically speaking, the average life of a titmouse is 2.1 years of age. However, titmice can live up to a decade or more if they can make it out of their nest without being eaten. They are hearty birds that, save for several predators, are well-adapted to live in several bio-zones. Their song is very pleasing and a favorite of many in the eastern half of North America. However, many don’t make it to old age since titmice have several natural enemies. One of the most dangerous predators is the common house cat, but snakes, raccoons, and possums also eat a fair share of titmice.
Featured Image Credit: JackBulmer, Pixabay
Greg Iacono is a self-taught writer and former chiropractor who, ironically, retired early due to back problems. He now spends his time writing scintillating content on a wide variety of subjects. Greg is also a well-known video script writer known for his ability to take a complex subject and make it accessible for the layperson.
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