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The curious Bushtit

January 12, 2011

Roaming the West in large, active flocks, the Bushtit is indeed a curious little bird. Weighing in at only 4-6 grams, Bushtits join kinglets as the smallest North American birds besides the hummingbirds. FeederWatchers fortunate enough to live in the Bushtit range may attract this species to suet feeders. Brandon Green of Eugene, Oregon, recently snapped this amazing photo showing a mob of Bushtits inside his suet cage.

Bushtit flock at suet feeder by Brandon Green, Eugene, Oregon.

At least 27 individuals are visible in the photo above. Flocks of up to 40 birds are often found in the non-breeding season. Nesting Bushtits often have “helpers” at the nest (non-breeding individuals that help to raise the young of the nesting pair).

More information on Bushtits may be found on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds website.

  1. Lilly permalink
    January 16, 2011 1:35 pm

    Oh my gosh! Love the picture!!!

  2. February 7, 2011 2:00 pm

    I have masses of tiny birds at my suet feeders too but I wasn’t sure what they were. Since they only congregate when I’m inside, it’s hard to get a good photo of them since the feeder is right next to my window & therefore more silhouetted as it’s back-lit instead. But I’m fairly sure I caught a glimpse of yellow on the top of one bird’s head. For all I know now, it may have been a bit of droppings from another bird.

    I thought the birds might be golden-crowned kinglets but another Flickr member in our area said they were likely bushtits. Now I’m not sure. This is the first year I’ve ever seen them at my suet feeders so thought they might be iruptive species. Is there any way to know which species considering I can’t go outside to take a photo as they won’t return if I’m outside? Do kinglets gather like this? The most I’ve had on my feeders were about 12 but then there’s little room for more than that on one feeder as I set it up so it’s an upside-down feeder to stop the starlings.

    Any insight you might have is greatly appreciated!

  3. birdwatcher permalink
    August 9, 2011 9:25 pm

    It is likely that you had a flock of bushtits and a golden-crowned kinglet feeding together. Golden-crowned kinglets do not flock nearly as much as bushtits do. I have seen flocks of kinglets of five or six birds at the very most, but bushtits flock in large numbers, sometimes nearly 30! Also note that bushtits have exceptionally long tails for their size, as where kinglets do not have so long of tails.


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