A Tailless Tufted Titmouse at Sunrise

Yesterday morning while sitting on my deck, a Tufted Titmouse at my feeder caught my eye. I noticed right away something strange – this little gray bird with a peaked crest was missing all of its tail feathers!

Tailless Tufted Titmouse
Tailless Tufted Titmouse

It made me think of the Titmouse pair that nested in my yard and raised a brood of chicks this spring. Though I did not recognize this specific bird, I wondered if it could be one of their fledglings, now experiencing its first molt.

Molting is the process many bird species undergo to shed their worn juvenile feathers and grow a set of fresh adult plumage. For young Titmice, this molt replaces their baby feathers with adult ones and is an important part of maturation.

While I can’t be sure this is one of “my” fledglings, it seems likely given the timing. If so, it’s fun to imagine this scrappy, tailless Titmouse as one of the chicks I watched grow up this summer. Though the molt leaves them looking unkempt, it’s a necessary transition.

A Tufted Titmouse Without Tail Feathers
A Tufted Titmouse Without Tail Feathers

In the coming weeks, this bird’s tail will return, full and feathered. I’m glad my feeder can provide fuel for the nutrition-draining process. I’ll enjoy watching this Titmouse family stick around and brighten my yard throughout the year. Wherever it came from, I’m happy I could observe a fascinating glimpse into the molting season of our feathered friends.

Equipment Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R5
  • Lens: Canon RF 100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM

Technical Details:

  • Location: Lavaca (Arkansas)
  • Date and Time Taken: August 27, 2023 (09:48 A. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f8
  • Shutter speed: 1/800
  • ISO: 1250 (Auto)
  • Exp. Comp.: +0.7
  • Focal Length: 500 mm

Related Post:

Farewell to My Tufted Titmouse Family

Nesting Tufted Titmouse Update: Baby Birds

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