Where Does the Tufted Titmouse Nest?

tufted titmouse
The Tufted Titmouse is a delightfully charismatic bird that nests near deciduous forests in the eastern portion of the United States. They are secondary cavity-nesting birds, that look for abandoned nest holes. They will eat at backyard feeders and love munching on sunflower seeds.

Did you know that the tufted titmouse is a cavity-dwelling bird, but they don’t excavate their nesting locations? Instead, they let the woodpeckers do all of the heavy lifting, and reuse old woodpecker nests the following season! This article details the nesting location of the tufted titmouse and how to spot a tufted titmouse nest in the wild.

What’s interesting about the tufted titmouse is that it’s a nest cavity dwelling bird, but it’s not equipped to excavate its nesting cavity location. So, how can the tufted titmouse build nests in cavities without the proper tools? Keep reading to learn all about the tufted titmouse’s unique nests!

Tufted Titmouse Nests

The tufted titmouse is a secondary cavity nester, as its beaks aren’t equipped to carve their cavity like woodpeckers, black capped chickadees, or nuthatches. Instead, the tufted titmouse birds find pre-existing holes either in the dead branches of trees or old nests carved by woodpeckers. Because tufted titmice don’t carve their nests, they greatly benefit from using nesting boxes.

It helps them quickly find safe spaces to build their nests without scouting previously used nests from other birds. When placing a tufted titmouse nesting box, always opt for a location near thick, deciduous trees that provide plenty of protection. You can opt to make your nesting box (which ensures that it meets all the specifications that a titmouse needs, or buy one from a specialty store.

Tufted titmouse on a branch
Tufted titmouse on a branch

Tufted Titmice Nest Materials

Titmice will build their nests from sturdy materials such as bark strips, moss, grass, and wet leaves. Things can get a little strange when it comes to making their nest comfortable. The tufted titmouse is very serious about comfortable nests and, in some instances, plucks hair straight from living mammals! Some naturalists have discovered hair from raccoons, cows, horses, opossums, squirrels, and even human hair inside their nests.

Do Titmice Reuse Nests?

Titmice will reuse old nesting sites of other birds, but they will not use the same nest for two breeding seasons in a row. During the breeding season, they find old nesting locations from other cavity excavating birds like the woodpecker. The male removes the old nesting material and debris inside the established nest and replaces them with his nesting materials.

While they may reuse the old nests of other birds, they won’t use the same nesting location twice. If you have a tufted titmouse nesting box in your backyard, make sure that you clean it out every autumn to prepare for a new batch of broods the following spring.

Building a Tufted Titmouse Nesting Box

The unique nesting habits of these birds mean that they love manufactured nesting boxes. Finding old cavities carved by other birds is challenging, so placing a birdhouse just for them helps them out! A good tufted titmouse nesting box must meet a few specifications, so follow these tips carefully.

  1. Make sure the hole is small. The size of the tufted titmouse nesting box entrance hole must be 1-1 1/4 of an inch wide. To ensure that Tufted Titmice use your box exclusively, the entrance hole must be the correct size. If it’s too big, other birds (like sparrows) might use the nest instead.
  2. Don’t use a perch. Cavity-dwelling birds like the tufted titmouse do not require a nest. It may dissuade these songbirds from using your box because it serves as a threat to their safety. Perches make it a little easier for predators to climb inside for a snack.
  3. Ensure that it’s a perfect size. The ideal size titmouse nesting box should measure 8 inches tall with an interior dimension of 4-inches by 5 1/2 inches. If you make it too large, you invite other birds to use the box, and it won’t keep the eggs as warm as they need to be to incubate.

Alternatively, check out this pictured resource where you can building a birdhouse for the tufted titmouse bird in no time!

tufted titmouse nest

Tufted Titmouse Eggs

Tufted Titmouse eggs are tiny, measuring only 0.72 inches wide and are 0.55 inches long. They vary from white to creamy white and are dotted with deep red or purple spots. During one breeding season, titmice lay up to 2 broods of eggs per breeding season. Each clutch size consists, on average, of around four eggs.

Once the female finishes laying her eggs, the tufted titmouse incubation period lasts around two weeks. During the incubation period, the male titmouse feeds the female as she sits on the nest. Once the eggs hatch, the tufted titmouse nestlings stay in the nest for 16 days. Nestlings live on a protein-rich diet of caterpillars, snails, wasps, mealworms, and other insects before gaining enough strength to leave the nest eventually.

Tufted Titmouse Diet

Their diet consists of a blend of both bugs and seeds. Young titmice need more protein in their diet and live on a bug diet. After they fledge the nest, they eat a more diverse diet of bugs and seeds. If you want to entice the tufted titmouse bird and get them to visit your backyard space, hang some bird-feeders filled with sunflower seeds- it’s their favorite food!

You can attract them to your backyard in the cooler winter months with suet cakes. Mealworm suet cakes provide an extra protein boost in the winter when they need it most.

How to Attract Tufted Titmice to Your Backyard

Everyone loves hearing the peter-peter-peter call of the tufted titmouse early in the morning. To attract these skilled songbirds into your backyard, finding the food they love most is vital! While they sometimes show up at bird-feeders with a classic songbird blend, they are there for the sunflower seeds.

Opt for seed blends that incorporate more sunflower seeds to attract titmice rather than cracked corn exclusively. Another great way to attract these North American birds to your backyard is to ensure that you have a clean bird bath and a titmouse house ready to take on a new family of songbirds in the next breeding season!

Tara Summerville

Tara Summerville is a freelance writer that loves her backyard birdfeeders. She enjoys sitting on her deck with a cup of coffee, watching cardinals, blue jays, finches, and chickadees munch away at her backyard offerings. Her fascination with birds began as a child; spending afternoons at her grandma's house watching and identifying birds. She has since carried her love of songbirds into adulthood and ensures no bird in her yard goes hungry!

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