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Tufted Titmouse: Field Guide, Pictures, Habitat & Info

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tufted titmouse during winter

If you live in or have visited the eastern United States and spent any time outdoors, you’ve probably heard these little gray birds chattering amongst themselves. Or maybe you’ve enjoyed their acrobatic flying as they forage for food.

These little birds are a pleasure to watch and listen to. Keep reading for some more information on them and how you can find them.

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Quick Facts about Tufted Titmouse

tufted titmouse collecting fur
Image Credit: Jeanne Crockett, Shutterstock
Habitat Forest, gardens, parks, and other green spaces
Diet Seeds, berries, insects
Behavior Curious and vocal
Nesting Nest-box or other cavities
Conservation Least Concern
Scientific name Baeolophus bicolor
Lifespan: 2–10 years

Tufted Titmouse General Description

The tufted titmouse is a tiny bird. Fully grown, they only measure around 6 inches long usually, with a wingspan of around 10 inches. And like many other animals, the males are typically a bit bigger than the females.

At first glance, they aren’t overly colorful birds, with a white chest and gray back and wings. However, they have some neat reddish-orange markings on their flanks that add a little color.

Another major color characteristic of the tufted titmouse is the black forehead. Often, the black forehead is not as obvious on the young birds, and they are easily mistaken for an oak titmouse.

a tufted titmouse bird on a tree trunk
Image Credit: JackBulmer, Pixabay

Tufted Titmouse Range, Habitat, Behavior, Diet & Nesting

Here’s all the pertinent information about the tufted titmouse.


At one point, the tufted titmouse was considered a southern bird. However, in recent years, they’ve expanded their range further and further north. Now, they are sometimes found in the southernmost parts of eastern Canada.


The tufted titmouse is usually found in deciduous or mixed wood forests. However, they are also regular visitors to feeders in backyards and parks.


When it comes to behavior around humans, the tufted titmouse often demonstrates a lot of curiosity. For example, it’s not uncommon for them to perch on a window sill—as if they’re looking inside to see what the humans are up to.

Unlike many similar species of bird, the young birds typically stay with their parents throughout the winter, and mates will usually remain together for several mating seasons.

Tufted Titmouse
Image Credit: GeorgeB2, Pixabay


Tufted titmice are omnivores. During the summer, their primary food source is caterpillars. However, they feed on all sorts of bugs, insects, seeds, and berries.

If they eat out of a feeder, they will often dart in, take a sunflower seed, and fly off to eat it in peace (and safety). They also cache seeds throughout their territory during the fall and winter, so they have enough food to eat all year round.


The tufted titmouse cannot create its own nesting hole, so it relies on recycling old holes. These could be cavities in a tree or an old woodpecker’s nest. Man-made nesting boxes are also common homes for the titmouse.

hummingbird divider How to Find the Tufted Titmouse: Birdwatching Tips

Here are a few things to watch out for if you’re looking for the tufted titmouse.

What to Listen For

A tufted titmouse song usually sounds like “peter-peter-peter” whistled. However, there are around 20 song variations they’ve been known to have.

What to Look For

Sometimes the tufted titmouse will be flying around with their relatives—the chickety. But more often than not, there will only be two or three of these gray and white birds darting around.

When to Look

These birds are most active during the day and do not migrate far. So, you may see the same birds when you visit the same area over and over.

Attracting Tufted Titmouse to Your Backyard: Tips & Tricks

tufted titmouse perched on a branch
Image Credit: rusticpix_cheryl, Pixabay

Sometimes it’s nice to sit and enjoy bird watching from the comfort of your home. So, there are several things you can do to encourage the tufted titmouse to visit your yard.

1. Choosing the Right Feeder

Unlike some birds, tufted titmice aren’t overly picky about the feeder. However, they do have some favorites. Tube, hopper, suet basket, or nylon sock feeders are some of this bird’s preferred feeders.

The titmouse will often visit the feeder when it’s raining or snowing. So, it’s ideal to put it somewhere that is at least partially sheltered from the elements. And also, clean it regularly.

2. Choosing the Right Seed

Typically, the tufted titmouse diet mainly consists of bugs and insects. But during the winter, it relies on things like feeders filled with seeds or nuts. Some of their favorites include black sunflowers seeds, safflower, and peanuts.

bird feeder with baffle
Image By: Khairil Azhar Junos, Shutterstock

3. Create the Right Environment

Having somewhere where the bird can access running water in your yard is another thing to encourage the tufted titmouse. Also, putting up a nesting box or clearing old tree cavities helps them with a place to nest.

Tufted Titmouse Conservation: Is this Bird Threatened?

The tufted titmouse is labeled as “least concern” for its conservation status. This means there are no worries about extinction. In fact, the titmouse population has steadily grown 1.5% annually for the last several years. This is one contribution to the bird’s range going north.

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Final Thoughts

The tufted titmouse is a fun bird to watch because they are quite the acrobats. If you’re looking for this little bird, keep your ears open because you’ll likely hear that characteristic “peter-peter-peter” before you see the bird. We hope this field guide has been helpful in your search for the tufted titmouse.

Featured Image Credit: MikeGoad, Pixabay

About the Author Shea Cummings

Shea Cummings is a passionate content writer who believes that the power of words is immeasurable. He leverages years of experience in various trades such as carpentry, photography, and electrical to bring his articles to life. His goal is to provide his readers with information that delights and informs. When he's not writing you can find him spending time in the outdoors or playing some Minecraft on the Xbox with his wife and two sons.