From top: Tufted titmouse via Other Side of the Creek / Tufted titmouse by David Speiser via Pinterest
This, friends, is the tufted titmouse, undeniably my favorite neighbor. Before I met her, I claimed that our state bird, the cardinal, was my favorite bird, until I noticed this smaller crested songbird fearlessly standing on our kitchen windowsill, craning her neck to get a good look inside.
Just recently, we amended our condo's total lack of connection to the outdoors. We have no porch, yard, fire escape ... no outdoor entrance. Our window ledges are too narrow to even fit a flower pot, but the kitchen window does have a beautiful view of an enormous oak flanking the back side of our building, and for years, that was as good as it got. After spending many mornings admiring the woodpeckers and cardinals perched in the oak's branches, I decided to sprinkle a few sunflower seeds on window ledge. I waited. Weeks went by before I had any takers (I counted the seeds obsessively, hoping a bird caught on). Then, the titmouse, ever so curious, fluttered into view, and I started sharing crumbs from our cabinets. Soon enough, her friends began to visit too, so we invested in a small suet feeder, and secured it to our ledge with a length of parachute chord. In the early spring, I left little offerings beside the suet, like a tangle of yarn for their nests or a wedge of apple. Cardinals, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and black-capped chick-a-dees appreciated the gesture, but the titmice were the most gracious and friendly. Sometimes I think they chirp at our window just to say hello.
A couple weeks ago, we witnessed the most amazing thing. The titmouse brought her four fledglings to the ledge. Little bits of fuzz could still be seen poking out from their new feathers, and although they could fly, they still had baby bird mouths, springing open in the direction of their Mama. Kurt watched as Mama bird perched on the feeder's wire casing, depositing bits of suet into each fledgling's mouth. How sweet! They're already growing up so fast, appearing on the ledge by themselves or in pairs. They've known us since they were wee, so they barely flinch when we tap on the window or extend a handful of seeds. They're not afraid, and with a little patience, I think we'll have them eating out of our hands soon!
If you remember, I mentioned leaving the yarn on the ledge for the birds in this post. Unfortunately, I never actually saw a bird collecting yarn. I'd just return from work and notice the pile slowly depleting, until one day, there was nothing left. I like to assume that the titmice juniors were snuggled up in their nest, insulated with coral, kelly green, and baby blue wool roving. After a little research, I discovered that the chances are likely, since titmice are very industrious nest builders, often plucking hair and fur from unassuming squirrels, opossums, dogs ... as exhibited in this adorable TT worthy video: