Posts Tagged ‘Tufted Titmouse’

Today I decided to feature two of the smallest birds that I spotted in the trees in my neighborhood after our recent snowfall. The first one is a Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), a little bird that is in the same family as the chickadee. The second one, I believe, is a House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus), a bird that I don’t recall having seen before. I was really drawn to its red coloration and learned from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website that the red of a male House Finch comes from pigments contained in its food during molt (birds can’t make bright red or yellow colors directly).

tufted titmouse


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How much of a bird do you need to see in order to identify it? Can you identify a bird merely by its silhouette? If I hadn’t been watching this bird before it dove off of the branch, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to identify it from the silhouette.

Tufted Titmouse

Are things easier if the bird is in the shadows, but some color is visible and the shape is more recognizable?

Tufted Titmouse

Even if your identification skills are weak, this last shot is clear enough that you could eventually determine that it is a Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), a frequent visitor in my neighborhood. These birds are small and a little tough to see, but they have really loud voices. (Check out the website of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to listen to its song).

Tufted Titmouse

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


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Although I frequently catch a glimpse of them, it’s proven tough to get a shot of a Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor).  These little birds are in almost constant motion and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes them as “acrobatic foragers.”

The coloration of the Tufted Titmice is subdued and quiet, but the spiky crest and huge eyes help them to stand out from the crowd. As I was stalking one of these birds, it flew over to a support piece for a bird feeder and perched for a moment, giving me the opportunity to snap off this photograph. Normally I try to have a more natural setting for my bird images, but the bird’s pose was so perfect that I decided to post the image.

A simple shot of a common subject can often reveal its beauty—photography doesn’t always have to be complicated.

Tufted Titmouse

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I stalked the nest of the rescued baby bird featured in a posting last week, hoping to catch sight of its parents, I took this shot. Can you identify the bird from this photo of it entering the nesting cavity?


Let me back off a little and explain. The nest in question is inside of a crabapple tree in the front yard of a neighbor’s house, about a yard or so (one meter) above the ground. There are two openings and you can sometimes see the baby birds’ heads pop up through the lower opening, which serves as a window. I learned that the upper opening serves as an entry door for the parents. This is one of my initial shots with my 100mm macro lens of the tree, with one of the parents entering the “door.”


I came back at a later time with my 135-400mm lens and set up my tripod on the sidewalk and waited. It was mid-afternoon and the sun was shining almost directly into the opening, which complicated the exposure, but my patience was rewarded when the parents made multiple trips into the nest. This is another shot of one of them entering the nest, which you can see is a pretty tight squeeze.


I am not that great at making bird identifications from the rear, so my job was greatly facilitated when one of the birds paused and turned to the side prior to entering the nest. The mystery birds are Tufted Titmice (Baeolophus bicolor). I can’t quite figure out what the little bird has in its bill, but assume that it is something edible. Can anyone else tell what it is?


Timing was tricky as I tried to maintain my focus and the sidewalk was not all that comfortable. (I should bring a cushion next time.) Sometimes the parents would signal their imminent arrival with a call, but sometimes they would fly in out of nowhere. I attempted to capture the birds flying in and then flying out of the nest. Here is one of the few shots I was able to get of one of the parents preparing to leave the nesting cavity.


Sometimes when processing my photos, I come across one that I really like, even though it has all kinds of technical problems. I decided to end this posting with such a photo. The bird has already flown out of focus, but is clearly visible and is casting a cool shadow just below the entry into the nest.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Borrowing a longer telephoto lens earlier this week,  I was able to get some shots of the tiny birds that I often see, but rarely am able to photograph.

On Monday, my photography mentor, Cindy Dyer, lent me a Nikon D300 with a Nikon 80-400mm lens. It was a lot of fun to experiment with a much longer telephoto than I am accustomed to using. We spent only a limited time at a local nature center, so I did not have a chance to photograph anything too exotic, but I did get some shots of a Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), a Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus),  and a Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor).

The background in the first image really grabbed my attention when I pulled up the image on the computer—the tree branches look an awful lot like a suspension bridge.

I included the blurry final image of the chickadee flying away just for fun. I get this kind of image on a regular basis, although usually the bird is out of the frame. The Nikon I was using has a much higher frame rate (up to 7 images a second) than my Canon (a more modest three frames a second), so the chickadee is still in the frame.

I am pretty sure that I will stick with Canon and not switch to Nikon, but, as fellow blogger Lyle Krahn predicted, I am starting to hear the siren call of a longer lens.

Downy Woodpecker lorez

Chickadee 2 lorezTuftedTitmouse lorez

feeder_blogBlurryBird lorez

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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