BushtitPsaltriparus minimus

adult male
Brian E. Small/VIREO
adult male
Bob Steele/VIREO
Bushtit
Bushtit

Family

Description

3 3/4-4" (10 cm). Gray above with light underparts; small bill; and relatively long tail. Pacific Coast birds have brown crown, pale ear patch; Rocky Mountain birds have gray crown, brown ear patch. Birds in mountains near Mexican border have black ear patch; they were formerly considered a separate species, the "Black-eared Bushtit."

Voice

Contact calls are light tsip and pit notes, constantly uttered. Alarm call is a high trill.

Listen

1. Calls
2. Song
3. Songs and Calls

Habitat

Varied. Deciduous growth, usually streamside. In the coastal forest, it lives in second-growth alder thickets or in edges of coniferous forests composed of maple, dogwood, and birch; also in oak woodland, chaparral, and juniper brush.

Range

Resident from extreme southwestern British Columbia, southern Idaho, southwestern Wyoming, and Oklahoma panhandle southward.

Discussion

Bushtits flock in small bands, flitting nervously through trees and bushes, hanging, prying, picking, and gleaning, and keeping contact through a constant banter of soft chirps. They pervade a small area, then vanish, and reappear a couple of hundred yards away.

Nesting

5-15 white eggs in a hanging gourd-shaped nest with a side entrance near the top. Made of soft plant wool and lichens, the nest is suspended in a bush or tree.

Similar Species

adult male, breeding, Eastern

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

4 1/2 -5" (11-13 cm). Smaller than a sparrow. Tiny, slender, long-tailed bird, blue-gray above and white below, with white eye ring and broad white borders on black tail.

adult, breeding

California Gnatcatcher

4 1/2 -5" (11-13 cm). A tiny bird. Gray above, paler below. Male has black crown during summer that extends below eyes. Long black tail, with little white on outermost feathers.

adult male

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

4 1/2 -5" (11-13 cm). A tiny bird similar to Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Gray above, whitish below. Male has black crown during summer that extends to eyes.

adult male

Black-capped Gnatcatcher

4 1/2 -5" (11-13 cm). Similar to Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, but black cap of adult male more extensive; 2 outer tail feathers wholly white.

adult

Wrentit

6-6 1/2" (15-17 cm). Uniformly brown, with faintly streaked breast and conspicuous pale eyes.

adult male

Lucy's Warbler

4" (10 cm). A small, plain warbler with white eye ring. Both sexes gray above, creamy white below, with bright chestnut rump. Chestnut crown feathers usually concealed, except in display.

adult

Tufted Titmouse

6" (15 cm). Sparrow-sized. Gray above and whitish below, with rust-colored sides and conspicuous gray crest.

adult

Oak Titmouse

5-5 1/2" (13-14 cm). Sparrow-sized. Plain gray with paler underparts; small crest, usually erect.

adult

Juniper Titmouse

5 3/4" (15 cm). Adult plain gray above, paler gray below; crest gray. Tail long.

adult male

Verdin

4-4 1/2" (10-11 cm). Smaller than a chickadee, a little larger than a Bushtit. Gray with yellow head and throat; chestnut patch at bend of wing; white underparts.

Vireo

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