We were banding birds at Mr. Neil’s yesterday. I have quite a few photos of angry titmice–we got three in the nets. These are exciting birds for us because my buddies Mark and Roger band mostly around the Twin Cities metro area and we don’t have titmice there, it’s just out of their northern range, but Mr. Neil is loaded with them.
I love tufted titmice–the general lack of them in the Twin Cities metro area is what keeps it from being the perfect place to live. It could be argued that before beekeeping, I was using my friendship with Mr. Neil for a titmouse fix. But as much as I love titmice, I kind of dread them in the bird banding nets–those tiny feet so well adapted for clinging upside down on a branch, cling tightly to a wad of mist net. As you try to pry open those clamped toes to untangle them from the nets, they wail on your fingers with that hard beak–aiming for cuticles and knuckles. I don’t blame them, how are they to know that we are simply checking their weight, feather condition and attaching a small band. For all they know, we are no better than a sharp-shinned hawk about to eat them and they aren’t going down without a fight.
Their call is very interesting too. Up close, their angry whistles have an almost mechanical buzz beneath it. It’s hard to describe. I tried to get a video of Roger getting nailed by the titmouse as he was getting photos of its molt pattern. The titmouse’s calls even made Lola the dog bark–she was locked in her pen and desperately wanted to investigate the sound:
Titmice are the personification of attitude.