The character of the home reflects the quality of the occupant, and the Bushtit sets a fine example. The architecture of its intricately woven nest is worthy of close inspection. The Bushtit is best described as a tiny, gray cottonball with a long, narrow tail. It is constantly on the move, bouncing from one shrubby perch to another. Bushtits travel in bands of up to 40 birds, filling the shrublands with their bell-like tinkles. Bushtits are typically found west of our region, but they extend into the Rockies in Utah and Colorado. Psaltriparus is derived from the Greek word psaltris, 'player of the lute' (or zither), and parus, the Latin name for a titmouse.
I.D.: Sexes similar: uniform, gray plumage; light brown cheek; long tail; no crest. Male: dark eyes. Female: light-colored eyes.
Size: L 41/2 in. (11 cm).
Range: rare resident on the western slopes of the southern U.S. Rockies.
Habitat: shrubland, pinyon-juniper forests and riparian woodlands in the foothills.
Nesting: pair builds a sock-like, hanging nest, woven with moss, lichens, cocoons, spiders silk, fur and feathers, that can take up to 50 days to complete; pair incubates 5-7 eggs for 12 days.
Feeding: gleans vegetation for insects; also eats small seeds.
Voice: Male: simple, thin, high-pitched whistle: tsit tsit tsit tsit.
Similar Species: Juniper Titmouse: small crest; relatively shorter tail; light-colored legs; lacks the brown cheek patch. Boreal Chickadee: brown cap; black bib. Ruby-crowned Kinglet: distinct wing bars and eye ring; proportionately shorter tail.