Friday, March 14, 2014

Tufted Titmouse

Erika and I are back from a month visiting relatives and birding in Texas and New Mexico. In this and in subsequent posts, I will report on our adventures.

We left snow-bound, subzero Minnesota on Valentine’s Day (14 February), and reached Andover, Kansas, despite white-knuckle, icy roads across southern Minnesota and all of Iowa. The next morning I walked behind our hotel and listed our first new birds for the trip—an inquisitive flock of Tufted Titmice. Actually I was hoping for Black-crested Titmice, a central Texas speciality found south through northeastern Mexico. But Kansas is well north of the northern limits of the Black-crested Titmouse’s range in southern Oklahoma.

Brushing up on my identification skills, I noted that this titmouse sports a gray crest and a black forehead. A Black-crested Titmouse has a white forehead and a longer, black crest. The two titmice were, until recently, considered to be races of each other. They interbreed in a narrow region where the two titmice overlap. But their genes are subtly different and their calls, though often indistinguishable, are also slightly different (Patten and Smith-Patten 2008).

2 comments:

  1. Hi Dan:
    How do I go about signing up and taking your ornithology course, please?
    Many thanks,
    Meredith

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  2. Thanks for your interest in my ornithology course. As it stands, it is completely independent and not for credit. If you have questions along the way, I would be glad to answer them.

    You may be able to register (and pay) for independent study credit at your local college or university. You will have to pursue that yourself, but, again, if they want information from me, they can contact me.

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