Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Garden Visitors

The birds are here every morning.

They arrive before the sun peaks over the tree tops and warms up the patio. Chickadees, robins, mourning doves, finches, cardinals, downy woodpeckers, Carolina wrens, nuthatches and the tufted titmouse are just a few of the garden residents and visitors.
 I love them all, but, my favorite is the tufted titmouse. (see A Pert Little Fellow)

He's a pert little fellow with a jaunty crest, dark eyes, mouse gray feathering and a touch of rust under his wings.
The Tufted Titmouse is common in eastern deciduous forests and can be found year round at most backyard feeders. They are bold and curious birds and will even approach the feeders while I am filling them. I've not tried to coax them to be hand fed like others have with Chickadees, but, I do have a good nodding acquaintance with my resident birds and the mixed species flock members that visit in the winter!
TUTI, as they are referred to in the literature, are insect, seed and berry eaters and appreciate a garden that offers them tasty spider eggs, cocoons and insects hiding in the dead leaves (see Gardening For Wildlife) As you can see in this post, they'll happily forage at feeders!
They're one of a few perching birds that can use their feet to hold seeds while they break them open
I met TUTI the first winter I moved to Nashville when my two best friends from college and I moved into a big rental house with a wild backyard. Once upon a time it had been a wonderful garden of small trees and flowering shrubs. The former owners had built brick paths that meandered through the garden and there was a small patio that was visible from the breakfast nook.

The neglected garden was a haven for blue jays, mockingbirds, doves, cardinals, robins and, many birds new to me. That first winter we filled the abandoned bird feeder and watched them every morning over coffee. That's how I met Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse, two of the most charming birds one could ever meet.

They were entertaining to watch; Chickadee was by far the more acrobatic as he teetered on the tiniest of swaying branches, but, Titmouse's large black eyes, brushy crest and cocked head stole my heart.
 I enjoy all the birds that visit my garden (except the starlings). What I've noticed is that each species seems to have have its own personality!
Some are just outright precious.
Some deserve their reputations as bossy and aggressive.
Some are friendly and eagerly share the garden with the gardener.
Some are absolutely beautiful, but, have no idea what's going on!
Some, like Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal, must be the star and try to scare other cardinal visitors from their territory.
Finally, some will win your heart and keep it forever! I wonder if you've found that to be true?


Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. It is good to see some of your garden visitors. TUTI are such busy birds. They make the garden feel quite lively.

  2. I do love the birds and the tufted titmouse is a favorite here as well as there. The birds are a bit shy at my feeders this year for some reason.

  3. I definitely agree that some birds just steal your heart. We used to get lots of blue jays and titmice at our feeder when we lived in Massachusetts. There are none here in the PNW and I miss them. There are no cardinals here either. We do have others that come to feed, and still have plenty of chickadees. And loads and loads of hummers, which were scarce in Massachusetts.The birds are such fun to watch.

  4. Superb captures of these adorable birds! I agree that the mourning dove are beautiful but a little clueless.

  5. Beautiful bird photos!
    We've identified a new bird at our feeders this winter - the Fox Sparrows are visiting from Canada. We are in their normal winter range, but I've not seen them come to our feeders before. Alas, no photos of them, but I'll keep trying..
    Did you know that this is Wild Bird Wednesday over at Paying Ready Attention - Photo Gallery
    It is a great meme for bird watchers around the world.
    Hope your weather is not too bad. We are just beginning to thaw a bit.

  6. Love these photos, Gail! I've had so few visitors at the bird feeders so far that I'm wondering if they decided it was too cold to stay in our area this winter. Last year was the first time I saw a titmouse, and I agree they are adorable! It was feeding from the suet feeder I had attached to the big living room window and was the only bird not frightened by the four cats watching it eagerly from the inside:)

  7. The tufted titmouse is one of my favorites too.

  8. You've got a great collection. Mine is smaller but very active right now - scrub jays, house finches, lesser goldfinches, hummingbirds and one group I can't identify. I'm enjoying the bath parties in the fountain and all the activity at our feeders.

  9. Many of these stay with us for the winter, too, but I think the tufted titmouses spend winters south of us, which is sad because I love their song. The others are here, but they make themselves scarce and hide under the snowy bushes during the arctic blasts we've had during the past few days. The only ones that have been out during the polar vortex (at high noon, when the sun was very bright) are the chickadees, which are my favorites because I see them nearly every day. We also have dark-eyed juncos up here during the winter (they go north during the summer). They are out during even the coldest of days! Amazing photos, Gail!

  10. The tufted titmouse is a favorite of mine, also. 2 years in a row, we had one that would sit on our love seat outside and stare at us. We finally figured out he did this when he was out of food. My husband said we were, "getting the bird eye". Love to watch them all!

  11. I have tried and tried to get good pictures of the the titmouse but they are so fast. I really, really enjoy yours!

  12. I think the tufted titmice are the cutest. I actually had an argument with a birder one time about which is cuter, titmouse or chickadee. lol Both are pretty darned cute!

  13. I'm hoping some of my missing birds are in your garden now - can't imagine that anyone would be taking better care of them.

  14. What amazing birds you have. They are all gorgeous. Fabulous photos too.

  15. Yep. I too find different species have different personalities. Good closeups.

  16. What charming visitors you have! I especially like the robins, you know?

  17. You are so right...there are some that capture our hearts...for me it is the bluebirds...I also love the TUTI...so sweet and cute. I have seen some this winter which is unusual


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson