I was excited to see a Tufted Titmouse on my feeder yesterday morning, since I’ve never seen one in my backyard before.
Although they are new to my backyard, they have been expanding their range northward since about 1900, not only here in the midwest, but particularly in the northeastern U.S. This is a good example of a species that has taken advantage of a warming climate as well as an increase in the number of backyard bird feeders (both people and food supply).
Unlike Chickadees, however, Titmice do not gang up in large flocks in the fall and winter, but the resident pair will sometimes join mixed flocks of Chickadees and Nuthatches as they forage through deciduous woods. In addition, the resident pair of titmice may keep a couple of their offspring from the previous breeding season to act as “helpers” to feed the new brood, a social strategy that Chickadees do not employ.
I was a little dismayed to read that because of their larger body size, Titmice may exclude Chickadees from feeders, and noticeable declines in the Chickadee population follow establishment of Tufted Titmice in an area.