The Oak Titmouse is a small, brownish-gray bird with a small tuft or crest on top of its head. The tuft is very apparent and what helped me identify the flock of birds that devour all of my ripe mulberries every year.
As you can see by the picture, their face is plain, with a light gray underside. Males and females are similar in appearance, there is very little to no difference between them. Their small black eyes, short beak and plump shape make for a cute little bird.
They prefer open woodlands of warm, dry oak and oak-pine at low to mid-elevations. Hence their namesake, and it explains why they’re on our property, our area is loaded with Oak trees.
The Oak Titmouse diet includes insects, spiders (yeh), berries, acorns, and seeds. They forage on foliage, twigs, branches, trunks, and occasionally the ground.
This agile bird can be seen hanging upside down to forage, and hammering seeds against branches to break them open. You may also find them at feeders with suet, peanut butter and sunflower seeds.
Wikipedia states that they “form in pairs or small groups, but do not form large flocks.” I’m not sure what they consider a large flock, but it’s large enough to wipe out the crop of 2 large mulberry trees.
I really wanted some ripe mulberries this year, so I tried covering the smaller mulberry tree with bird netting. This is not the shape of tree meant for bird netting, after struggling for 20 minutes and getting stung by a bee, I gave it up to the birds.
Breeding season is March to July, with peak activity in April and May. The female will lay between 3–9 eggs, and incubate for 14-16 days.
The young birds are taken care of by both parents for 16–21 days. Parents continue their care for another three to four weeks after the young leave the nest. It’s cool that the pairs of adult Titmouse stay together after the breeding season.
The song of the Oak Titmouse is a series of repeated whistled notes of three to seven syllables, with the first syllable higher in pitch than the following ones, each consisting of one low and one high note.
I find it much easier to identify a particular bird call by listening to a recording rather than reading a description! See below for a link to the Merlin apps. for sounds of different bird species.