Bushtit

Psaltriparus minimus

Bushtits are resident within their range (i.e. nonmigratory). We find them in the American West as far north as Vancouver BC, and along the Pacific coast, south into northern Baja California. Inland, we find them across Oregon to the Great Basin from the eastern Sierra Nevada range through Nevada and Utah. Sections of eastern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico also host these birds.

We classify these birds as long-tailed tits and they are the only member of this group in the New World. Their nests are rather long hanging ‘socks’ made of spider webs, mosses, catkins and grasses. They live in groups of several dozen birds, often as an extended family. The eye color can identify males and females. Males have dark irises, while females have very light irises.

I’ve found these birds rather bold, and if I stood still, they would forage tamely within a few feet of me. I love their cheery bubbling calls as they course through the trees and bushes on their feeding patrols. In mobs of busybodies, they look for the small prey hiding in the foliage. They sometimes hang upside-down to glean tiny insects and spiders from the leaves, twigs and branches under their surveillance.

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