One Bushtit

Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)

Seeing just one Bushtit is like seeing just one ant. They’re very social and almost always travel in numbers. Maybe this one was an explorer, come to check out the park habitat for his peeple. He — the dark eyes say it’s a male — perched atop a small tree where I’ve often seen an Anna’s Hummingbird, and because of his small size I first mistook him for an Anna’s. But when he turned and showed his beak, oops! Not a hummingbird! The Bushtit doesn’t care about nectar. With that tiny beak, he couldn’t get any if he wanted. This bird is an insect eater. He’s unfussy about the species. Aphids, fine. Leafhoppers, fine. Ants, fine. Whatever. The bird does a great favor for trees and other plants by hanging upside down and eating insect eggs and pupae on the underside of leaves. He’ll take a berry or a seed or two if no bugs are near. They’re tolerant birds, happily mixing with warblers, kinglets, and chickadees, and not getting into fights over territory. Definitely a gardener’s friend, but rarely comes to feeders — unless you could fill your feeder with little bugs.

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