BushtitPsaltriparus minimus

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



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."


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


1. Calls
2. Song
3. Songs and Calls


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.


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


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.


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

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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.

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Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

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Black-capped Gnatcatcher

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