Watching a Tufted Titmouse Crack Open Sunflower Seeds

I had the chance to photograph a Tufted Titmouse eating a sunflower seed here in my yard.

A Tufted Titmouse Holding A Sunflower Seed In Its Feet
A Tufted Titmouse Perched On A Branch Holding A Sunflower Seed In Its Feet (High Resolution Image)

Tufted Titmice are one of the few perching birds that can use their feet to hold sunflower seeds while they break them open. Here’s a step-by-step process of how they do it:

  1. Grab a seed: The Titmouse will first snatch a sunflower seed with its beak from a feeder or the ground.

  2. Find a perch: It will then fly to a nearby branch or twig and perch itself comfortably.

  3. Hold the seed: Using its dexterous little feet, the Titmouse will grip the seed firmly, positioning it for easy access.

  4. Hammer time: With its strong beak, the Titmouse will start hammering away at the seed’s tough shell, chipping away bits and pieces.

  5. Extract the prize: Once the shell is cracked open, the Titmouse will carefully extract the delicious seed kernel inside.

  6. Enjoy the meal: The Titmouse will then happily munch on the nutritious seed, replenishing its energy reserves.

Tufted Titmouse Eating Sunflower Seed Kernel
Tufted Titmouse Eating Sunflower Seed Kernel (High Resolution Image)

Tufted Titmice are not only skilled seed-crackers, but they are also clever hoarders. They will often store away hundreds of sunflower seeds in hidden caches around their territory, ensuring they have a steady food supply during the harsher winter months. This impressive feat of memory and planning helps them survive and thrive in a variety of habitats.

Note: Tufted Titmice readily consume sunflower seeds due to their high fat and nutrient content, making them an ideal food source, especially in winter. Sunflower seeds have the highest calorie-to-weight ratio compared to any other bird feed, as well as a superior level of protein, providing a concentrated source of calories. In addition to sunflower seeds, Tufted Titmice also enjoy other high-fat feeder foods such as mealworms, Nyjer, peanuts, safflower, and suet. This high-fat content and broad availability make sunflower seeds an ideal food for Tufted Titmice to help them survive the harsh winter months.

Image Information (First Image):

  • Date: 01/24/24
  • Time: 09:28 AM
  • Camera: Canon EOS R5
  • Lens: Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM
  • ISO: 8000
  • Aperture: 8
  • Shutter: 1/2000
  • Exp. Comp.:+0.7
  • Lens (mm): 500
  • Program Mode: Manual