Posted by: atowhee | April 7, 2020


Confined to quarters is not always bad.  This morning I was out in the sun in our garden and a Bushtit flew past.  I followed the bird…as it went to its NEST!!! It is the first nest I have found in our garden in five years here.  Both the male and female were busy carrying beakfuls to the nest.  It hung on the lower edge of a forty-foot tall Colorado spruce.  Dot marks the spot.a
the Bushtit nest is one of our few woven sacs among North American birds.  Marsh Wrens, dipper and oriole species also weave–each to its own design and security specifications  Each Bushtit’s nest is a pendulous sac several inches long and its structural parts made mostly of dried grass.  This one is about ten feet off the ground, fairly normal.  Sometimes they are much lower than that, rarely higher in my experience.  Note that it hangs vertically next to prominent vertical, drooping limb of the spruce itself.  This makes it very hard to notice unless you follow the flow of Bushtit traffic.bThe dot on the upper right-hand side is just to the right of the opening.  It is always near the top of the nest so the adult has to ladder up and down inside when inside the nest.  It is too confined for use of wings.  When an adult comes and enters the nest vibrates, pulses, shows it is holding a vibrant gift within.
Here is a wider view of the nest site with spruce needles impinging on view.  In the second image I have drawn a bracket around the nest.


I have seen plenty of Bushtit nests over the decades.  I know what’s going on here…making myself sound like some politician we can’t stand to listen to.  Well, I wuz dedwrong  They weren’t carrying food to nestlings:KEY IMAGE (2)_LIThus Bushtit has a beak full of moss, the next visit brought some vegetable fuzz.  Nest lining was happening inside.  No eggs yet.

Here is image of a Bushtit gathering material.  Photo by fellow birder, Mary Ellen Moore, taken near her home in Colorado Springs:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is accurate information from Dr. Sarah Sloane, our generation’s Bushtit expert–she wrote the BNA account of the species and continues her studies of these little tykes:
“Incubation is about 16 days and the time the kids are in the nest is at least 18 days (I need to change incubation time in the BNA account).  So you have a good 34 days for each nest!  If you’re lucky, there will be two broods in the nest before the summer is up.  They do reuse the same nest after fledging the first (but never the next year)  The kids just fledge out of the nest entrance.  No damage done.  The only time a nest gets torn is from predation or nest material thieves (usually goldfinches, but sometimes other bushtits in the same flock). ” 

When there are eggs they are incubated for twelve days, then the nestling spend another two weeks in nest before fledgling…so I have another month of Bushtit watching at this nest. Most pairs will nest twice in a year, new nest sac each time because they tear the top open when it is time for the young to leave.  They will likely have five to seven eggs.  Both parents take turn with incubation and feeding the young.
It is the female that has pale eyes, the male’s eyes are black.  I never fail to repeat that Bushtits are the smallest Oregon bird that is NOT a hummingbird.  Their nearest genetic cousins are in the Old World, like the Long-tailed and Penduline Tits of Europe.


  1. OMG, OMG! Well you can’t sell the house now!! And here I thought you were just the ggo whisperer!

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