Titmice are charming, engaging birds and a favorite with backyard birders. These birds can be shy, however, and it can be challenging to first attract titmice. With a bird-friendly yard that meets their needs, however, attracting titmice can be successful and birders can enjoy the sprightly visits of these charismatic birds.
Why We Love Titmice
These small songbirds may not have the bright, flashy colors of cardinals, hummingbirds, or warblers, but their soft blue-gray upperparts and whitish underparts are still attractive. The jaunty, pointed crest sets off a titmouse’s shape, and different titmouse species have black, white, or peach-tan markings for extra distinction.
Titmice are smaller songbirds, generally just 5.5-6.5 inches long, but their feisty attitudes more than make up for their diminutive size. Titmice have bold personalities and are overflowing with curiosity, often learning the sound of a birder’s voice and responding to calls or pishing in the yard. With patience and perseverance, they can even become accustomed to taking treats right from birders’ hands. Their sweet, squeaky voices add cheery melodies to the yard, and their voracious appetite for caterpillars help keep garden insect populations down. Titmice are confident birds, and hold their own at crowded feeders without bullying other species.
See also: Attracting Black-Capped Chickadees
Different Titmice to Attract
There are five titmice species in North America, and each one brings its own individuality to birders’ yards.
- Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) – The most widespread titmouse, this bird is common in the eastern United States year-round, spreading as far west as eastern Texas, the eastern portions of Oklahoma and Kansas, and into southeastern Minnesota. These birds are blue-gray above and white below, with peach-tan patches on their flanks and a black square above their bills.
- Bridled Titmouse (Baeolophus wollweberi) – A southeastern specialty, these titmice are found principally in Mexico but with their year-round range extending north to southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. They have a boldly striped face that makes them unmistakable.
- Black-Crested Titmouse (Baeolophus atricristatus) – The bold black on their crests makes these titmice stand out and gives them a jaunty, cap-like appearance. These birds are found from central and western Texas into Mexico, and like other titmice, stay in their range year-round.
- Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus) – Also called the plain titmouse, this bird is rather drab with just olive-brown-gray upperparts and lighter grayish underparts, lacking any distinct markings or contrasting colors. These titmice are common in western and coastal California and the northern Baja peninsula of Mexico.
- Juniper Titmouse (Baeolophus ridgwayi) – Another drab titmouse but with a shaggy crest and somewhat lighter coloration than its oak cousin, the juniper titmouse is found in juniper and pinyon pine forests throughout the interior west of North America. This bird is most widespread from Nevada and Utah into western Colorado, northern Arizona, and northern New Mexico.
Within their ranges, each of these titmice can become regular guests in bird-friendly yards.
How to Attract Titmice
Attracting titmice is easy if you meet these birds’ basic needs. Food is the easiest way to attract titmice, and these birds enjoy both whole and shelled sunflower seeds. They will take each seed and fly to a nearby perch to hammer it open and nibble each morsel. Titmice also flock to peanut feeders for both whole and shelled peanuts, and they will also visit suet feeders for savory snacks. Tube, platform, tray, and hopper style feeders can all welcome titmice, and these birds aren’t fussy about visiting even busy feeding stations.
See also: What Makes a Good Bird Feeder?
After eating, many titmice will visit bird baths for a quick drink. Because these are smaller birds, baths should be appropriately shallow. If a bath is deeper, placing a stick or two down into the water will provide an easy perch for titmice to reach the water. Since titmice stay in their ranges year-round, a heated bird bath is essential in winter to keep water from freezing, and all bird baths should be kept clean and fresh at all times to minimize the risk of disease.
Good shelter is also essential for attracting titmice. Mature trees are the best option, particularly trees that yield nuts to provide another food source. Dense shrubbery that produces berries is also popular with titmice. Beech, birch, maple, oak, elderberry, and goldenrod all appeal to titmice, and planting sunflowers in flowerbeds, containers, or along borders will also catch the attention of these birds.
These songbirds will use birdhouses not only for nesting but also for winter shelter when necessary. To appeal to titmice, a birdhouse should have a 1.25-inch entrance hole, and the interior floor space should be roughly 4x4 inches to accommodate their broods. The house should be 10-12 inches tall overall, since a smaller house will be too cramped and a larger house will be too big for titmice to feel secure.
Above all, it is important to be patient when attracting titmice. While these are bold and curious birds, they don’t often travel far from their home territory and it can take some time to attract their attention. Once they realize your yard is a reliable spot for food, water, and shelter, the birds and their delightful antics will become regular and welcome guests.