Today’s weather has been changeable, to understate the case. After a week of early warmth, winter has barged back into the low desert in the form of a March Pacific storm, bringing intermittent rain, gusty winds, spotty sunshine, and nippy (for us) temperatures.
Folding clean laundry was the other option, so I chose fiddling on the computer, and this is the result: a highly-edited photo of a Bridled titmouse (Poecile sclateri) snapped up at Montezuma Well last fall, on the exciting fortuitous Tarantula Visit. Overcome at the time by the thrill of encountering miniature possibly un-named by science marauding arachnids, the comparatively calm pleasure of a small gray bird was passed over until today, when I discovered some “lost” photos on my computer desktop.
<< Bridled titmouse (Photo shot by E and edited by A Shock)
These are the least plain of the titmice, which are known more for their jaunty demeanor than their subtle plumage, which is usually buffy gray and tan. In fact, before it was split into “Oak” and “Juniper” species, the other western titmouse was officially known as the Plain titmouse. But the Bridled not only sports a perky peaky head, but has a white face with ornate black “bridle” outlining it. And look how much that natty head pattern looks like sticks silhouetted against the bright sky — the first and second rules of camouflage: break up your overall body shape, and blend in to the background.
We don’t see Bridled titmice — or any parids (chickadee-related birds) — in the desert very often: they mainly breed in oak-woodland or coniferous forests at higher elevations. During the colder weather months, however, they can be seen down here, but not usually “in town”. So spotting one of these guys uphill is always pleasant, and getting a picture of one isn’t easy: like all ‘dees they are dinky, chatty, busy, and speedy. This was one of a pair foraging in low mesquite trees, gleaning twigs and bark for little joint-legged goodies, staying in touch with one another with continuous contact-calls. To hear the Bridled titmouse’s punchy vocal efforts, click here.