Tufted titmouse defends bird feeder

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 26, 2012

By Wayne Hinshaw
For the Salisbury Post
Thud! Thud! Thud! (pause) Thud! Thud!
What in the world is that noise? I keep hearing the thuds over and over again coming from my backyard. Quickly investigating, I discover a small Tufted Titmouse bird bumping his body into the glass of my storage building.
He is not flying into the glass by accident, and he doesn’t appear to be trying to hurt himself. Apparently, he sees his reflection in the glass and likes or dislikes what he sees and wants to get to the “other” bird.
Going into the storage building with camera in hand, I wait for Mr. Titmouse to return. In a matter of minutes, he returns and continues bouncing into the glass window pane. I watch and photograph him for about an hour, seeing his pattern of action each time is to sit on the branches of a nearby butterfly bush and then make the 6 foot flying dive into the window.
He doesn’t hit the window hard enough to knock himself down or out. His dives end with him perching on the narrow window frame looking, with his black eyes, into the glass toward where I photograph. With his gray crest raised in aggression, his blackish forehead moves in quick, jerking motions as he studies himself. He uses the side of his head to strike the glass. Sometimes he pecks the glass with his beak in a rapid bang, bang, bang attack. Is he defending “his” bird feeder from the other titmouse?
Mr. Titmouse ends each dive with the same repetitive actions. Holding onto the frame with one foot, he swings himself upside down looking into the glass until his foot slips and he tumbles to the ground only to pop back up, fly to the butterfly bush, and start the progression all over again. I think Mr. Titmouse either hangs upside down for a brief better view into the building or his acrobatic stand is certainly intended to impress “the bird of his vision” watching from inside.
For a week, the little fellow works at the window every day for most of the daylight hours, resting, perching, pecking the glass, falling to the ground and repeating the workout.