EDITOR’S NOTE: Our newest columnist Neil Ball shares photos and profiles of local birds that he’s seen, studied and photographed in our area.
Meet the Bushtit
By Neil Ball
One of our smallest songbirds are the Bushtits. A gregarious group of birds, they normally hang out with their extended family of up to 40 birds moving from bush to bush, tree to tree eating small bugs and spiders. If you have a suet feeder, it is utterly amazing just how many Bushtits can fit on the cake at one time. It is worth setting up a suet cake just to watch the spectacle.
In our area, the Bushtits are unmistakable and can be seen year round. With their short stubby beak, long tail and indistinct coloration, there is nothing that comes close to matching their description. Both the males and females are colored similarly with the eyes being the main difference. The males have dark eyes while the females have yellow eyes.
The Bushtits are master nest builders. They will make their hanging nests out of spider silk, lichens and mosses. They are well camouflaged and are built to last. They are built for the entire family group. During cold weather, the whole family will gather in the nest and huddle for warmth. In one instance, 30 birds were counted snuggled in their family home. No social distancing in this family.
Although they are a small, and seemingly happy bird, with their dark mask and dark eyes, they really can look like an angry bird.
Questions, suggestions, or requests? Email me at [email protected].