One Plucky Bird

Tufted Titmice are fearless little critters.

I’ve seen them squabble with much larger birds. They don’t hesitate to steal leaves from occupied squirrel dens. Yesterday, I watched one Tufted Titmouse gather nest material.  Her method doubled my respect for these birds’ pluck.

People sometimes toss hair outside, hoping birds will use it in their nests. Some birds forage fur from roadkill. But the Tufted Titmouse has another source for nest material. She harvests hair from sleeping animals. Dogs, squirrels, and raccoons are common targets.

Yesterday, I saw this seemingly reckless bird behavior with my own eyes.

I watched a titmouse pluck hair from a sleeping raccoon. A pregnant raccoon, which was clear from her distended belly, on display when she climbed my tree. She curled up in a large cavity that provides such poor shelter, both I and the titmouse could see her as she snoozed. Her fur was easy pickings for a bird in need of nest material. The cavity is so exposed, it would be a poor choice for birthing and raising kits. I think my visitor agrees. Last night, she left the tree for nocturnal foraging. She has not returned.

Here’s what I saw:I’ve read that animals rarely object—or even notice—when a Tufted Titmouse takes their hair. As you saw, this particular raccoon did not care for being plucked. Maybe it’s because she’s expecting. If you’ve ever been pregnant—or lived with someone who was—can you blame her for being a little grouchy?

10 thoughts on “One Plucky Bird”

  1. You capture the most amazing things with your camera. I have learned so much. I am going to share your blog address with my Master Naturalist group so they can enjoy it as much as I do. I wonder if this is where the word “plucky” comes from?

    1. Thank you, Ginny! And if ‘plucky’ didn’t come from this bird… it should have!

  2. That is hysterical! What a great video! Saw a loon on our lake about a week ago! Just passing through, I am sure, on its way to northern Michigan.

    1. Thank you, Carol. And I wish that loon would stop by my house for a photo session!

    1. That’s funny, Kay. More like, ‘in-my-backyard’ geographic! (And I truly appreciate the compliment!)

  3. Wow! Wow! Wow! I included this fascinating fact in a NF story I wrote but never thought I’d see it! Your photography is magical! Thank you so much for sharing, Carol.

    1. Julia, this was just one darn lucky catch. I had noticed the raccoon napping and was keeping an eye on her, in case she did anything interesting. The titmouse spent so much time filching hair that I was bound to see her, and her long plucking sessions gave me plenty of time to relocate, aim, and focus the camera. Plus for once, the creatures did me the favor of being interesting when the light was good!

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