Tommy J. DeBardeleben

Chickadees, Titmice, Verdin, and Bushtit of Maricopa County


Bridled Titmouse (Baeolophus wollweberi)

The Bridled Titmouse is mainly a Mexican species, and it is only found in the United States in Arizona and New Mexico.  It is the smallest titmouse, and is very distinctive with it's chickadee-like facial pattern.  This bird inhabitats a variety of woodlands, which is mainly pine and oak woodlands as well as riparian woodlands dominated by sycamores and mesquites in midst of juniper covered hills.  Numbers may increase in some winters to lower habitats with cottonwood and willow riparian forests.  The call of the Bridled Titmouse sounds similar to that of a Mountain Chickadee.  They are often seen in pairs or small groups, and form larger flocks in the winter, and their diet consists of insects and seeds.  The Bridled Titmouse is common in Maricopa County as a permanent resident in pine and oak woodlands, as well as riparian areas with junipers and mesquites dominating the surrounding habitat.  Excellent areas to find the Bridled Titmouse in Maricopa County are:  Area 1 (Sunflower, Bushnell Tanks, Mount Ord, Slate Creek Divide, Four Peaks Wilderness) and Area 11 (Lower Camp Creek and Seven Springs Recreation Area and Wash).


Juniper Titmouse (Baeolophus ridgwayi)

True to it's name, the Juniper Titmouse is found strongly where there is good juniper habitat.  This noisy little bird is found in pairs or small groups in it's range, which consists of some the western United States.  It feeds on seeds, berries, acorns, and insects, and is fun to watch as it forages in trees and sometimes on the ground.  The Juniper Titmouse also nests in cavities.  This bird is a permanent resident in it's range, and is found easily in it's favored habitat.  In Maricopa County, the Juniper Titmouse is found where there are junipers from 3 to 6000' in elevation, and they may also be found in midst of pine and oak woodlands.  The Juniper Titmouse can be found in Maricopa County at:  Area 1 (Four Peaks Wilderness, Sunflower, Bushnell Tanks, Mount Ord, Slate Creek Divide), and Area 11 (Lower Camp Creek, Seven Springs Recreation Area and Wash).


Verdin Auriparus flaviceps

This tiny and distinctive bird is found in North America in the desert southwest, where it inhabits deserts and arid areas, riparian habitats, as well as dry foothills.  The Verdin builds a spectacular nest which is circular shaped with a small opening that is just enough for the Verdin to fit through.  This smart bird builds and places the nest facing in directions that correspond better with the weather, which them survive better.  Verdins eat a variety of foods and forage chickadee-like, which include insects and spiders, berries, fruit, and seeds.  Verdins are very abundant in Maricopa County and are found easily in desert, dry foothills, riparian areas within deserts, as well as desert plantings in the middle of cities, towns, neighborhoods, parks, and housing developments.


Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus

The tiny Bushtit is found throughout western North America, and is a permanent resident wherever it is found.  It is a very sociable bird, traveling and feeding in big flocks except when breeding.  Bushtits typically favor habitats with open woods and chaparral.  These birds are extremely curious and come in to pishing in big groups.  Bushtits are friendly birds and allow other Bushtits and mixed flocks of other bird species to come through their territory.  Like other birds on this page, Bushtits are acrobatic feeders, feeding on a variety of insects and also seeds and fruit.  Bushtits are common in Maricopa County in Upper Sonoran and Transition Zones.  This includes habitats with juniper woodlands along riparian canyons, and especially chaparral covered slopes that go from lower to higher elevations that reach the Transition Zones.  Hotspots where Bushtits are found in Maricopa County include:  Area 1 (Four Peaks Wilderness, Sunflower, Bushnell Tanks, Mount Ord, Slate Creek Divide), Area 11 (Rackensack Canyon, Lower Camp Creek, Mount Humboldt, Seven Springs Recreation Area and Wash), and Area 12 (probably in chaparral habitats in the Horseshoe Lake Recreation Area).


Also keep an eye out for...


Mountain Chickadee Poecile gambeli

The Mountain Chickadee is found in western North America and lives throughout much of Arizona.  It's white eyebrow is distinctive among chickadees.  Mountain Chickadees inhabit mixed conifer and fir forests in their range and nest in cavities, and they feed on insects and seeds in acrobatic style.  Their "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" call is heard in the forest throughout the day, more often than their actual song.  Mountain Chickadees are mainly nonmigratory birds, but sometimes move south of their normal range when food source is low.  In Maricopa County, Mountain Chickadees may be found in these years, sometimes as low as the Lower Sonoran Zones in riparian habitats.  They are very likely in the Transition Zones in the Highway 87 Area (Area 1) during late fall and through winter, as at least a few chickadees seem to move south annually.  Mount Ord is a great place to check, as it's 7000 feet in elevation is higher in elevation and more pleasing to a chickadee.  Throughout the rest of Ord, Slate Creek Divide, and Four Peaks would also be decent places to find Mountain Chickadees moving a little lower and south than their normal range.  During breakout years, keep an eye out in a variety of habitats in mixed flocks at different elevations.


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