A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Entertained by the bird life outside

Written November 28th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

These little guys come by every once in a while. They gang up on the feeder outside my study window, as though to entertain me with their twittering ways. But really just to get a quick bite.

They are, if you’ll forgive my language, bushtits. That’s what it says in the three guides I consulted on birds of the Northwest and the Willamette Valley.

The bird books tell me what I already know from watching these little fellows. They are tiny, with long tails. They travel in groups of 20 or 30 or more. And they are on the move all the time.

According to “Familiar Birds,” put out in 1981 by the Portland Audubon Society, bushtits feed mostly on insects. They also come to suet feeders but don’t stay long, which explains why I didn’t have time to dig out a better camera for a clearer shot.

As for the origin of the name that English speakers have bestowed on this little bird, Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary (1996, Gramercy Books) doesn’t give much of a clue except to suggest that tit refers to any small bird and, in archaic usage, any small animal.

I count myself lucky that wildlife often animates the daytime view from my desk — lucky especially when I don’t want to deal with the dismal Covid news or anything else that’s important or deep. (hh)

The crowd was a little bigger about a few days before the shot on top.




5 responses to “Entertained by the bird life outside”

  1. Patricia Eich says:

    We enjoy watching the hummingbirds coming to the feeder outside our kitchen window. They are especially hungry this time of year. Had to refill again this morning.

  2. Katherine says:

    Bushtits come in flocks. Very cool. I have had fat Robins, Northern Flickers, Chickadees , Nuthatches and I can go on. Oh here come the Finches. Thanks for sharing. Feed the Birds.

  3. HM says:

    The U.S. Bushtits in the photos above are very similar to the European Long-tailed tit.
    The U.S. Chickadee is similar to the Eurasian Blue Tit. I think the Blue Tits are much more colourful.

  4. James Engel says:

    In our raised bird feeding station we have a caged suet feeder. The cage openings are only large enough for the smallest of birds. It’s probably 10″x10″ & holds (2) suets. It’s real hoot to watch the Bushtits mob it for a feeding. There must be at least 8 – 10 of ’em in there at a time. During the winter we have to fill the seed dispensers at least twice a week. We also have Humming Bird feeders that have a small light bulb under them to keep the fluid from freezing. It’s rather easy to entertain seniors!

  5. hj.anony1 says:

    Thank you HH for your SOLID attempt at subtle humor. Laughed!!!

    Well done. May I be the last to say… I too feed birds year round.
    Including those small Hummers. Those feeders take extra year round
    care and cleaning. Real name vs. HANDLE no matter. LOL


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