Jan 18 2010
The weather has moderated to a warmer version of winter with rain, thick clouds, and sometimes snow but the birds don’t mind. They’re anticipating spring.
I noticed this when I took a walk on the Montour Trail on Saturday and was pleasantly surprised by bright sunshine and a lot of activity among three tufted titmice. They attracted my attention when I heard a high-pitched “seeeee” and saw them hopping, bowing, spreading their tails and showing off their rusty flanks to each other.
What were they doing? The answer required some research.
Tufted titmice don’t migrate. Instead they stay on their home range with their mate, and sometimes their young, all winter. The family groups don’t fight among themselves but a neighboring male may test the boundaries. This makes the local pair very agitated and they all hop and chase. During territorial disputes male titmice make a high-pitched whistle so that’s what caught my attention.
The dispute was important to the three birds who flitted over my head, oblivious to my presence. Eventually they worked out their differences and the males went back to their homes to sing “Peter, Peter, Peter.”
Listen for their songs as the month progresses and you, too, can anticipate spring.
(photo by Bobby Greene)