Birds: Bushtit

One of the happiest flocks of birds you might never see are the bushtit, as they migrate through your neighborhood. They make a lot of noise, but are stealthy at remaining hard to see behind leaves and branches. Occasionally they will see something on your window and fly into it in search of its quest.

Although it sounds like a former Presidential harassment case, the American Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus) is an ancient species. It is the only species in the family Aegithalidae that is found in the New World. It is also the only member of the genus Psaltriparus in North America. This small fry is affectionately referred to simply as “bushtit.” Although my wife thinks it is a terrible name, I suggested she not take the whole naming issue so seriously. (It did not go over well.)[1]

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The bushtit is a very active and gregarious forager. It eats small insects and spiders and travels in mixed-species flocks of  chickadees and small warblers. There can be from 10 to over 40 of the birds in a group. The bushtit members of the flock seem to be making constant contact with their calls, which can be described as a short spit.


Although I have not spotted one on our property, the bushtit nest is in a word elaborate. They make a pendant nest from a vast collection of moss, lichen, twigs, grass, and spider webs. The nest is lined with feathers, as it hangs from the branches.

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In Spain there is a variation of the duller, North American, bushtit. It makes the American version downright boring, and it’s sparkle make it an eye dazzler for sure. We first noticed the blue and yellow colors as tight flocks of the small birds flew from bush to branch to weed on the Meseta Region of Central Spain. Called the Eurasian Blue Tit[2], it’s worth a look. We spotted some males and female Blue Tit on the Camino de Santiago and they were a real eye dazzler on the try plains. They made my day, more than once.

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[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_bushtit

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurasian_blue_tit

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