Posted on April 4th, 2008 by David Dilworth
Photo courtesy of Doug Parrott
- The Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus) is the only species of long-tailed tit in North America.
- Bushtit are remarkable in the fact that they are one of the smallest birds found in North America and about half their four inch length is made up by their long tail!
- The one-foot-long hanging nest of a Bushtit resembles an Orioles nest and is woven out of a variety of materials including mosses, lichens, leaves and spider’s webs.
- Bushtits constantly chatter as they travel around bushes and trees in small social groups.
- While foraging for insects Bushtits stretch and reach in all sorts of odd positions, often upside down in the manner of chickadees.
- Bushtits cope with the cold temperatures while roosting at night by closely huddling together in large groups. They also construct heavily insulated nests to protect their nestlings from the cold.
- In the mountains of southeastern Arizona, research has shown that an average of 37% of all Bushtits nests have an extra helper beyond the mated pair. These extra individuals can be male or female, juvenile or adult. The majority are adult males that do not have a mate of their own.
- Look at a Bushtit’s eyes to tell if it is a male or female. In an adult female the iris is light (cream, yellow, or white) and in the males it is black.
- Bushtits travel together in flocks of up to 40 individuals in late summer, fall, winter, and early spring. They have been recorded in flocks up to 100 during the summer.
- The typical call of the Bushtit is very soft and bell-like. They do not have a song.
- Bushtits are very tame and fearless of humans.
- Adult Bushtits with active nests can be identified by their frayed and bent tail-feathers.
- Bushtits have such a small body weight to size ratio (average weight is 5.5 g) that it results in high rate of body heat loss. Individuals need to eat about 80% of their weight per day in insects to avoid losing weight.