Share it! Science : See it? Share it! One Suspicious Titmouse

See it? Share it! One Suspicious Titmouse

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One of my great winter joys is feeding and watching birds. We got our feeders out earlier than usual this year and have a great variety of visitors including most of the usual suspects: chickadees, titmice, several types of finches, a variety of woodpeckers, and on the ground: juncos, bluejays, and mourning doves. A couple of birthdays ago my husband got me a Wingscapes Bird Cam,  which works just like a game camera does, snapping shots when animal movement is detected.

We love looking over the hundreds of photos of birds from our feeders. This week I was looking back at some pictures from a few weeks ago. I usually just skim through thumbnails for something interesting. As you can imagine, there are many shots of empty bird feeders swaying around, or just chickadees, chickadees and more chickadees. (Don't get me wrong, I do love my chickadees...they just outnumber everything else!) I couldn't help but notice this titmouse (or maybe several different titmice...) eyeballing our camera. All the other birds seem to go about their business, but it looks like this little guy has found us out! In each picture, all taken on November 20th, as you can see by the date stamp, the bird seems to be looking directly at the camera. 

One Suspicious Tufted Titmouse! © SBF 2014
I realize from a science perspective that I am anthropomorphizing this situation, or giving human qualities to a non-human organism. It could be that the timing was a coincidence, or that the large black eyes of a titmouse just look like they are imploring more so than other birds. From a less black and white perspective, the photos brought a smile to my face. Watching another living organism joyfully (yes, anthropomorphic again) going about their daily routine is what makes bird watching fun and worthwhile. So, regardless of the truth of the matter, I'd like to believe that this titmouse is on to our sneaky photography!

The Tufted Titmouse, which is what we observe at our feeders, is a small gray bird found in the Eastern half of the United States. The titmouse generally eats insects, but due to their unavailability during the colder months these little birds depend on hoarding seeds they find in bird feeders. The titmouse is related to the chickadee, which is also found in the Paridae family of the order Passeriformes.

There are many great resources for birding, bird watching and identification. Some of my favorites are Cornell's All About Birds site, "Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America", Stokes' "The Bird Feeder Book: Attracting, Identifying, Understanding Feeder Birds",  and, an online guide to identifying birds using a key. Cornell's Citizen Science Blog recently had a post concerning where to position feeders. It included a Google maps tool to help map out the proper distance from your home to prevent fatal collisions with windows, sliding doors, etc. You'll find that post here, it is definitely worth checking out.

Do you feed birds over the winter? Have an anecdote to share? Comment below!

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