Jan 18 2010

Anticipating Spring

Published by at 3:17 pm under Songbirds

Tufted Titmouse (photo by Bobby Greene)
The weather has moderated to a warmer version of winter with rain, thick clouds, and sometimes snow but the birds don't mind.  They're anticipating spring.

I noticed this when I took a walk on the Montour Trail on Saturday and was pleasantly surprised by bright sunshine and a lot of activity among three tufted titmice.  They attracted my attention when I heard a high-pitched "seeeee" and saw them hopping, bowing, spreading their tails and showing off their rusty flanks to each other.

What were they doing?  The answer required some research.

Tufted titmice don't migrate.  Instead they stay on their home range with their mate, and sometimes their young, all winter.  The family groups don't fight among themselves but a neighboring male may test the boundaries.  This makes the local pair very agitated and they all hop and chase.  During territorial disputes male titmice make a high-pitched whistle so that's what caught my attention.

The dispute was important to the three birds who flitted over my head, oblivious to my presence.  Eventually they worked out their differences and the males went back to their homes to sing "Peter, Peter, Peter."

Listen for their songs as the month progresses and you, too, can anticipate spring.

(photo by Bobby Greene)

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Anticipating Spring”

  1. Patsyon 18 Jan 2010 at 3:45 pm

    I have several of them around my yard and feeders. Didn’t realize they stay together as a family. Have also noticed the number of Juncos dwindling down already. Since they indicate the coming of the colder weather to me, am wondering if the reverse is true. Also am wondering if anyone has seen Dorothy or E-2 around the nest lately? I have not seen them in a few days.

  2. Kate St. Johnon 18 Jan 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Dorothy and E2 haven’t spent much time at the nest but they were both at the Cathedral of Learning at 2:00pm when I went out for a walk. E2 was on the lightning rod (looks like a big antenna) and Dorothy was near the top on the northeast corner.

  3. Donna Mohneyon 19 Jan 2010 at 10:11 pm

    I have 2 titmouse (Titmice?) who frequent my feeders. Should I dare forget to fill the feeders, they bang on my window until I go out and feed them!

  4. kellyon 20 Jan 2010 at 12:42 pm

    as i age i’ve found my body tolerates the cold less and less. because i live in a winterized summer cottage (an oxymoron i think) and use a bicycle to commute to work, every year i look for ways to “think spring” if just to get me through winter. here’s where birding helps tremendously. already you can sense the increased activity of all things avian. they know that spring is on the way. it is coming. it will be here. they are certain and they let me know it if i am paying attention. i love it. it’s great.

  5. Lauren Conkleon 21 Jan 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Last spring I brushed my cat, who was shedding a vast amount of hair at the time, and then I dumped the hair on the lawn for birds to collect for their nest building. Not a minute later a titmouse was on that clump of hair, stuffing as much as he could into his beak. I thought about those baby titmice who would be kept warm and snug with my cat’s hair. Pretty cool!

  6. Eileenon 22 Jan 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Great shot, The Titmouse is one of my favorite yardbirds.

  7. Tracion 25 Jan 2010 at 8:00 am

    I saw one of them, I would imagine it was Dorothy, ON the nest Sunday. I took a picture, using the save as function. This is the second day I’ve seen her on the nest. I am so excited!
    It was about this time last year, that I first ‘discovered’ the Peregrins!!
    The wvec eagle.cam is also up at the Norfolk gardens. The Bald Eagles have begun their mating ritual and are actively in their nest. They will lay eggs soon!!

    Did anyone else watch the special on PBS last night, about the Bald Eagle? It was amazing.

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