Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 130

PARTING TWEET

TAPTAPTAP ON THE WINDOW

Backyard Pals
At the Grytten household in the Western North Carolina
mountains, the tufted titmouse family is busy, just outside.
Text and photos by BOB GRYTTEN

The curiosity of the tufted titmouse is
on full display at the Gryttens'; said
curiosity, according to the Cornell
Lab of Ornithology, extends to "these
acrobatic foragers often hang upside
down or sideways as they investigate
cones, undersides of branches, and
leaf clusters."

130

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

I

t's nest building time and our tufted titmouse is hard
at it. Back and forth they fly with morsels of moss
and other found bits as they lay them into position
just right. They make their nests cup-shaped using
damp leaves, moss and grasses, and bark strips. Then
they line this cup with soft materials such as hair,
fur, wool, and cotton, sometimes plucking hairs directly from living mammals.
We even have a photo of one on my father's head,
his gray hair in beak, trying to yank it out of his head.
"Ouch!" cried my father, as I repositioned the camera.
Nest construction takes six to 11 days.
Tufted titmice are common with populations increased
between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. These birds' range has been
expanding northward over the last half-century. Possible
reasons for the range expansion include a warming climate, reversion of farmlands to forests, and the growing
popularity of backyard bird feeders.
Generally found at low elevations, Tufted Titmice are
rarely reported at elevations above 2,000 feet. However,
somehow we're lucky to find this nest builder at 3,000
feet. In the mornings he becomes a frequent visitor at the
bathroom window.
"He gets me up every morning," says my wife, with his
tap tap tap on the window.


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018

Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 3
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 130
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover4
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