Titmouse Tales – Our First Nest of the Year

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We have been excitedly watching one of our nest boxes in Florida which, since early March, has been the home of a Tufted Titmouse pair. These adorable small songbirds are a first for our Nest Box Live cameras. We are captivated by the close-up view we are getting into their nesting lives. 

Female Tufted Titmouse Incubating
The female Titmouse sits on her recently-laid eggs. Image by Nest Box Live.

The Arrival of the Tufted Titmouse Pair

In early spring, flocks of Titmice begin to break off and form male and female pairs. These bonded birds look for nesting cavities to build their nest within. Just like Bluebirds, Tufted Titmice aren’t able to excavate nest holes themselves and instead look for already-made holes suitable to house their nest. These can be natural holes in trees, the old nests of woodpeckers, or in this case an artificial nest box.

Tufted Titmouse Nestbox in Florida
The Nest Box Live home for the nesting Titmouse pair. Image by Adam Scheiner.

After our Titmouse pair were first sighted in early March, they began busily bringing nesting materials to the box. Tufted Titmice build cup-shaped nests, using grasses, damp leaves and moss to create the structure. They then bring softer materials like fur, hair and cotton to line this cup. Titmice are dedicated nest builders, and will even pluck the hair off a live animal (including humans!) to get the perfect material for their nest. 

Our Titmouse pair were no different, and excited us by picking up shedded snake skin for their home building supplies.

What was surprising about this broody pair though, was that they left the middle of the nest cup empty and didn’t create a soft surface for the eggs to be laid. We suspect that our couple may be ‘first-timers’ still perfecting the art of making a nest box a home! 

In general, Tufted Titmice spend 4-11 days building their nest until the first egg is laid. The parents will continue to bring in nesting materials after the eggs are laid. 

The Titmouse Lays Her First Egg 

On the 11th of March, after a few days of home furnishing, the mum-to-be began giving the signs that the first egg was on its way. She nestled herself into the middle of her cup nest and her muscles started to contract.

After a few minutes, the first egg was laid. She took some time to ‘eggs’amine the new addition before leaving the nest to find food and more nesting material. Shortly after, the curious male Titmouse appeared in the nest and had a look at the new arrival.

The female Titmouse lays her first egg, shortly replaced by the male to check-out the new addition. Video by Nest Box Live.

The eggs of Tufted Titmice are just short of an inch, white and freckled with small brown spots. 

Over the following few days after, the female titmouse laid 5 more eggs. By the 16th of March, she had started incubating her 6-egg brood, an average clutch size for this species.

The Female Incubates Her 6 Eggs 

For Tufted Titmice, only the females incubate the eggs. Incubating female birds have a brood-patch: a featherless, fluid-filled area on their abdomen that helps to transfer heat to the developing eggs. They use their beak to gently move the eggs under this area and shuffle themselves down to keep them there.

Our male Titmouse will still have his duties though, being tasked with bringing more nesting materials and food for his partner. He will also play an important role once the eggs have hatched: helping mum to feed to chicks.

The Latest Titmouse Nest News

Tufted Titmouse Incubating Eggs
Titmouse female spends most of the day and all night incubating. Image by Nest Box Live.

It has now been 17 days since the first egg was laid. At present, the nest is looking a lot more comfortable. Additional soft material has padded out the previously bare centre of the nest, keeping the eggs warm and safe.

Our female bird is now almost always sitting on her eggs, spending night and day keeping them warm.

Tufted Titmice incubate their eggs for around 12-14 days, until one by one, they will begin to hatch. As our Titmouse female began incubating 12 days ago, we are expecting the first cheeping chick to appear very soon. 

If you want to follow along the journey of these nesting Tufted Titmice, check out the livestream here. We are broadcasting this nest box 24 hours a day so you can stay updated. Let us know in the comments if you are excited as we are about seeing the first tiny Titmouse chick hatch!

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