A Bushtit is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Bushtits. We have also put together a list of fun Bushtit t-shirts, Bushtit bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
The Bushtit is a bird of American origin that is commonly referred to as the “American Bushtit”. It can also be found in the Western United States, Mexico, Guatemala, California, and Vancouver.
Description and Identification
American Bushtits are one of the smallest passerines in North America, at about 4.3 inches
in length. They have large heads with short necks, long tails, and short stubby bills. Their
heads are brownish-gray while their wings and underparts are gray to tan-gray. There is
slight sexual dimorphism displayed in the eye colors of these birds, with the adult males
having dark eyes while the females have yellow eyes. Coastal Bushtits have brown cap-like
markings on their heads, whereas the varieties that live further inland have brownish-black
Length: 11 cm
Weight: 5 to 6 g
It has a long head, short neck, a long tail, and a short stubby bill. It is gray-brown overall and the males have dark eyes while the females are yellow. The females also have tan cheeks.
The coastal birds have a brown “cap” while those within the inland have brown “masks”. A sub-species of the American bushtit known as the black-eared bushtit has black feathers on the side of faces that looks like large ears.
Bushtit Life and Behavior
The Bushtits move quickly through trees in small flocks and continuously make small, sharp twitters as they communicate. They build pendant nests from soft materials like spider silk and hang them from tree branches.
While foraging, Bushtits can mix with other small birds such as chickadees and kinglets. During the breeding season, Bushtit males form pairs with females and build nests. Both the male and female take up an active role in raising the young until they are old enough to leave the nest. The pairs are assisted in raising the young by other adult males who do things like bringing food to the pair’s nest.
The family of Bushtits all sleeps inside the nests, unlike other species where only the adult males sleep in the breeding nests.
These birds mainly feed on small insects, spiders, and other anthropods – including tiny
scale insects that are found on leaves and twigs. This range of insects can also include other
plant-feeding bugs, beetles, caterpillars, wasps, leafhoppers, treehoppers, and ants. They
also frequently consume the eggs and the pupae of many insects. On occasion, these birds
can be observed consuming plants during periods with depleted food sources. These mainly
include willow seeds, olives, and berries.
Bushtits mainly feed on insects and other small creatures such as spiders. They “hunt” by hanging upside down from leaves and pouncing on unsuspecting insects.
Bushtits gravitate towards open woods and scrubby areas, particularly towards pine-oak
woodlands, chaparral, as well as suburbs and parks. They can live in many kinds of wooded
or brushy habitats, from lowlands to middle elevations in the mountains. These areas can
also include pinyon pine, junipers, streamside groves, well-wooded suburbs, and city parks.
Other evergreens that rise up to 11,500 feet high are also suitable habitats for these birds.
They tend to avoid high mountains and hot desert regions but may appear in cottonwood
willow groves along desert streams in winter.
They reside in oak forests, woodlands, suburbs, streamsides, thickets, and scrublands. They live in large social groups and build “villages” consisting of a dozen or more nests. They can be found in elevations of up to 10, 000 feet above sea level.
Range and Migration
American Bushtits – also known as long-tailed tits – are small passerine birds found along with
western and southern United States around the Rockies, and down the mountainous regions
of Mexico and Central America. These birds are permanent residents of their home
territories but may move towards lowlands during the winters. Known for their high-pitched
calls, they can be seen flying around in huge flocks. These birds are referred to as only
‘Bushtits’ in North America.
Nesting sites are selected by both the males and females of the pairs and are subsequently
built by both of them as well. These sites are generally on tree trunks or branches at any height ranging from 8 feet to 40 feet. These birds are known for making their elaborate
pendant-shaped hanging nests, a process that can take longer than a month to complete.
These nests are rigidly attached to twigs and branches with a tightly woven hanging pocket,
which can go up to a foot long. A small hole in the side near the top that leads into the nest
bowl through a narrow passage is then made. A stretchy sac for the inner cup is made using
spiderwebs and plant material, sometimes stretching the nest downwards while it is still
under construction. The interiors are lined with moss, grass, lichens, leaves, rootlets, twigs,
and then further insulated by animal hair and feathers. The nests are used by all associated
adults for shelter and are typically reused if there is a second brood in the season. On average, females have 1 – 2 broods each breeding season with 4 – 10 eggs each.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Bushtits
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Bushtits are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
If you love the Bushtit you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Bushtit Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron on patches. Our bird watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen an identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Bushtit is a great iron on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Bushtit. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders For Bushtit
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Bushtit
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.