Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Black-crested Titmouse

Baeolophus atricristatus

A characteristic bird of much of southern and central Texas, barely extending northward into southwestern Oklahoma. This is a close relative of the Tufted Titmouse of eastern North America, and was treated as a subspecies at one time. Where the ranges of the two species meet in east-central Texas, they sometimes interbreed, producing hybrids that may show a dark gray crest and a reddish brown forehead.
Conservation status Common in its U.S. range, numbers apparently stable.
Family Chickadees and Titmice
Habitat Brushlands, woods, riverside groves. Occurs widely in south Texas brush country, but may be more common in taller trees along rivers. Found in some well-wooded suburbs and parks within its range.
A characteristic bird of much of southern and central Texas, barely extending northward into southwestern Oklahoma. This is a close relative of the Tufted Titmouse of eastern North America, and was treated as a subspecies at one time. Where the ranges of the two species meet in east-central Texas, they sometimes interbreed, producing hybrids that may show a dark gray crest and a reddish brown forehead.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Forages by hopping actively among branches and twigs of trees, often hanging upside down, sometimes hovering momentarily. Often drops to the ground for food as well. Comes to bird feeders for seeds or suet. Opens acorns and seeds by holding them with feet and pounding with bill. Will store food items, retrieving them later.


Eggs

5-6, sometimes 4-7. White, finely dotted with brown, reddish, or purple. Incubation is probably by female only, 12-14 days. Young: Female stays with young much of time at first, while male brings food; later, young are fed by both parents, sometimes by additional helper. Young leave nest about 15-16 days after hatching.


Young

Female stays with young much of time at first, while male brings food; later, young are fed by both parents, sometimes by additional helper. Young leave nest about 15-16 days after hatching.

Diet

Mostly insects and seeds. Insects make up the majority of the annual diet, with caterpillars the most important prey in summer; also eats wasps, bees, beetles, true bugs, and many others, including many insect eggs and pupae. Also eats some spiders and snails. Seeds, nuts, berries, and small fruits are important in diet, especially in winter.


Nesting

Pairs may remain together all year, joining mixed flocks with other small birds in winter. Flocks break up in late winter, and pairs establish nesting territories. Nest site is in hole in tree, either natural cavity or old woodpecker hole; usually 3 to 20 feet above the ground. Will also use nest boxes. Nest (probably built by female) has foundation of grass, moss, leaves, bark strips, lined with soft materials, especially animal hair.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Permanent resident, seldom wandering any distance.

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Migration

Permanent resident, seldom wandering any distance.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Song similar to that of Tufted Titmouse, peter-peter-peter. One-noted song is more common in Black-crested than in Tufted Titmouse.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Perching Birds

Black-crested Titmouse

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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