Get to Know the Rambunctious Bushtit

One of our tiniest songbirds, Bushtits can be found foraging in flocks throughout the west.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of The National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide. 


This is BirdNote!

Only a few songbirds anywhere in the world are as small as Bushtits. Weighing in at 5.3 grams – that’s about the weight of four paperclips – they are smaller than many hummingbirds. Take a close look at a Bushtit, and you’ll marvel at how tiny it is.

But Bushtits take full advantage of their diminutive size. While larger insect eaters forage on the upper surfaces of leaves and twigs, Bushtits hang beneath them. That gives them exclusive access to all the tiny insects and spiders protected from the rain and hiding out of sight of other birds. Watch a foraging flock of Bushtits, and you’ll have to smile. A shrub or small tree may be full of little brown, long-tailed birds hanging upside-down like Christmas-tree ornaments.

After they finish nesting, Bushtits go about in flocks of 30 or more. One bird after another flies from bush to bush, like a troop passing in review. Their quiet calling helps them keep track of one another.   

Where they live in suburbia, a flock of 30 Bushtits can do a great job of ridding a garden of harmful aphids and scale insects. Good things do come in small packages!

BirdNote listeners are taking a once in a lifetime journey to South Africa, and you can join us! Trip details and more at



Narrator:  Mary McCann

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

Written by Dennis Paulson

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Calls of flock [120213] recorded by G.A. Keller.

BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

© 2014 Tune In to     May 2017/2019   

ID# BUSH-04-2012-05-25