Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Bushtit

Our backyard has been fairly devoid of birds ever since mid-October. A gang of Bushtits visit the feeders about once a week—ths photo was taken on 9 December 2019. Bushtits are a welcome sight since other birds often follow them to the feast. These seven Bushtits were part of a flock of over 15. At least two appear to be banded—look closely at the birds on the front left and the far right. These birds, both banded on the left leg, are probably mine. The shininess of the bands indicates the bands are fairly new. Since April, we have banded 40 Bushtits in the backyard.

Bushtits have fascinating and variable nesting habits. They build insulated nests. Often their offspring help their parents raise subsequent young. In some populations, other, unrelated Bushtits of all sexes and ages assist the nesting pair. Most of these extra birds are unmated males that may contribute genetically to the nest. Thus, writes Sloan (2001), Bushtits are “potentially polygynous, polyandrous, or polygynandrous.”

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