Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus


Bushtit
These nondescript little birds are common throughout the Bay Area, as they forage in small flocks giving their soft high-pitched calls. They are not shy, often allowing close approach, but their small size and constant motion makes them a challenge to photograph. Males' eyes are dark, females' yellow. They are gray-brown, apparent shade varying with the warmth of the light, with the birds found along the Pacific Coast tending to appear brown on the head and gray on the rest of the upperparts, while those found in the interior West tend to appear gray all over (see the example further down the page.) Bushtits are the only North American representative of the family Aegithalidae; they are close relatives of the Long-tailed Tits that are common park and garden birds in Great Britain.


Bushtit

Bushtit

Bushtit
The bird above shows the normal look of the Pacific type of Bushtit, brown head, gray on the rest of the upperparts; the bird shown below, my only photographed example of a Bushtit of the Interior type, looks gray on the head as well as the rest of the upper body.


Bushtit

Bushtit


Bushtit

Bushtits
Bushtits copulating, above, in March. The leafy greens in the female's bill may be nesting material; matings in this species are most often observed during nest-building and near the nest. Below, in January, a male and female together while bathing in my backyard fountain in January; to me they look like a pair, established or incipient, and this is the time of year in which Bushtits are first observed gathering nesting material.

Bushtits