Nature Note

A first for me: here’s a Tufted Titmouse eating a Winter Wren. I saw the Baeolophus bicolor fly up from the road with a bundle that turned out to a Troglodytes hiemalis. Winter Wrens are small, but this was still a substantial load for the Titmouse. Because of the road, I suspect the smaller bird was scavenged, not killed, by the larger bird, but I can’t be sure.There was some plucking, just like a raptor would do. Note here the TT’s single toe around the wren’s beak. Presumably the other foot is similarly gripping the corpse and/or the branch. But what is that dark, shiny blob by the TT’s toes? Here you can see the wren’s eye-socket…ugh. Brains are very nutritious. About 75 yards down the road was a headless Swamp Sparrow; owls, for instance, will sometimes just eat the head of prey if they’re already satiated.There’s a note in a 1959 number of The Wilson Bulletin of a Tufted eating a shrew after a deep snowfall. I’ve personally seen a Black-capped Chickadee eating from the corpse of what was probably a squirrel, also in deep snow. A note in a 1985 issue of The Journal of Field Ornithology tells of a Tufted Titmouse with a live salamander, and cited some other evidence of feeding on vertebrates for this normally seed-eating species. Of course, people with bird feeders know how popular that nutritious fat suet is, especially in winter.

Here’s something about Great Tits doing something similar

5 Responses to “Nature Note”

  1. 1 Susan October 27, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    It’s a gift to view such a beautiful close up photos of this lovely bird.

  2. 2 Edith Goren October 28, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Gross but thank you for the close up shots of this unusual phenomenon.

  1. 1 Winter Wrens | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on November 13, 2018 at 7:01 am
  2. 2 Tufted | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on November 27, 2018 at 7:00 am
  3. 3 Tufted and Chrysalis | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on March 18, 2021 at 7:02 am

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