Before I headed out to
during the summer of 2010, I had a short-list of birds I wanted to see. On that
list was the miniscule Bushtit, the only North American representative of
the largely Eurasian family called Aegithalidae, or the long-tailed tits. I
looked forward to seeing these birds all summer, but when I arrived in San
Diego, I was surprised to that they were one of the
first birds I saw.
Bushtits are wholly unique among North American birds. For one, they fly in tightly-knit flocks numbering between 20-40 birds, moving through low shrubs and bushes even in suburban habitat. I say “flock”, but these birds skillfully move between dense branches, flitting in and out more like a swarm of flies over roadkill. Additionally, the sexes look quite similar except for one key difference: female Bushtits have light-colored eyes, while those of the male are pure black, like shark’s eyes.
|Which would make this one a male Bushtit.|
During our time in
James and I found that Bushtits are particularly responsive to taped
calls. Merely playing the tape in their general vicinity would lead to a swarm
of these tiny birds in the nearest shrub. As such, we had fantastic views of
these birds at close range, and got equally fantastic photos. I can’t wait til
I can head out that way again, and get to enjoy these birds in all their