Written by: M. Green
Reviewed by: L. Mewaldt
Edited by: R. Duke, D. Winkler
DISTRIBUTION, ABUNDANCE, AND SEASONALITY
A common resident in a variety of habitats
throughout most of the state, especially valley
foothill and montane hardwood, valley foothill hardwood-conifer, and
riparian. Also common
in pinyon-juniper and juniper habitats. Absent from southeastern
desert regions except for
slopes of desert ranges. Also absent from western slope of Sierra
Nevada above 2100 m
(7000 ft) and the eastern slope above 2800 m (9200 ft), except as a
vagrant. In fall and
winter, vagrant in desert riparian habitats. Resident on Santa
Cruz Island (Grinnell and Miller
1944, McCaskie et al. 1979, Garrett and Dunn 1981).
SPECIFIC HABITAT REQUIREMENTS
Feeding: Eats mostly insects and spiders;
also eats berries and rarely seeds and nectar.
Gleans foliage, twigs, and branches of trees and shrubs, and sometimes
picks from ground.
Feeds in flocks except during breeding season.
Cover: In coastal California, typically
finds cover in chaparral, oak woodland, coastal
scrub, and residential areas. In interior areas, inhabits chaparral,
woodlands, and extends
into pine forests at lower elevations. In eastern California,
inhabits pinyon-juniper and juniper
woodlands, and areas with mountain mahogany or other tall shrubs and
Sometimes uses riparian habitats. Roosts in nest.
Reproduction: Builds pendant nest approximately
20 cm (8 in) long of spider webs and
delicate plant material. Nest usually built less than 3.5 m (12
ft) above ground in tree or
Water: A study of water use by birds
in a California oak woodland (Williams and Koenig
1980) reported no drinking, although bathes occasionally.
Pattern: Found in open and dense brush
habitats in all stages of growth. In woodlands,
generally prefers open areas with a dense understory.
SPECIES LIFE HISTORY
Activity Patterns: Yearlong, diurnal
Seasonal Movements/Migration: Upslope
movement occurs on western slope of Sierra
Nevada after breeding (Gaines 1977b). Also moves occasionally
in fall and winter into desert
riparian habitats. Very gregarious except during breeding season.
Home Range: Ervin (1974) mapped flock
home ranges averaging 18 ha (45 ac) in Santa
Territory: Laudenslayer and Balda (1976)
reported average territory of 1.4 ha (3.5 ac) in
an Arizona pinyon-juniper-ponderosa pine ecotone. Hertz et al.
(1976) reported a mean
territory of 0.4 ha (1.0 ac) in an oak woodland in San Mateo Co.
Breeding density in number
of males per 40 ha (100 ac) have been reported as: 10 males in wax
myrtle forest in Los
Angeles Co. (McCarty 1975),18 males in broadleaf evergreen forest in
(Cogswell 1973), and 40 males in California bay-buckeye mixed forest
in Marin Co. (Stewart
Reproduction: Breeds from February to
early August, with peak activity from April through
June. Pair nests solitarily. Usually lays 5-7 eggs.
Nests with 12 and more eggs have been
found, but these probably result from more than 1 female laying (Bent
1946). May produce 2
broods per yr (Bent 1946). Incubation is 12-13 days. Altricial
young tended by both parents
and leave nest at 14-15 days (Harrison 1978).
Niche: Preyed upon by hawks, house cats,
and other small mammals. May forage in
flocks with other species. Group may roost huddled to conserve
energy (Ehrlich et al. 1988).
Bent, A. C. 1946. Life histories of North American jays,
crows, and titmice. U.S. Natl. Mus.
Bull. 191. 495pp.
Cogswell, H. L. 1973. Broadleaf evergreen forest with shrub-filled
openings. Pages 992-
993 in W. T. Van Velzen, ed. Thirty-seventh
breeding bird census. Am. Birds
Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's
handbook. Simon and
Schuster, New York. 785pp.
Ervin, S. 1974. Flock integrity, pair maintenance, and
the occurrence of supernumerary birds
in the bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus).
Ph.D. Thesis, Univ. California, Santa Barbara.
Gaines, D. 1977b. Birds of the Yosemite Sierra. California
Syllabus, Oakland. 153pp.
Garrett, K., and J. Dunn. 1981. Birds of southern California.
Los Angeles Audubon Soc.
Grinnell, J., and A. H. Miller. 1944. The distribution
of the birds of California. Pac. Coast
Avifauna No. 27. 608pp.
Harrison, C. 1978. A field guide to the nests, eggs and
nestlings of north American birds. W.
Collins Sons and Co., Cleveland, OH.
Hertz, P. E., J. V. Remsen, Jr., and S. I. Zones. 1976.
Ecological complementarity of three
sympatric parids in a California oak woodland.
Laudenslayer, W. F., Jr., and R. P. Balda. 1976. Breeding
bird use of a pinyon-juniper-
ponderosa pine ecotone. Auk 93:571-586.
McCarty, D. R. 1975. Wax myrtle forest. Pages 1123-1124
in W. T. Van Velzen, ed. Thiry-
ninth breeding bird census. Am. Birds
McCaskie, G., P. De Benedictis, R. Erickson, and J. Morlan. 1979.
Birds of northern
California, an annotated field list.
2nd ed. Golden Gate Audubon Soc., Berkeley. 84pp.
Stewart, R. E. 1975. Breeding birds of North Dakota.
Tri-college Center for Environmental
Studies, Fargo. 295pp.
Williams, P. L., and W. D. Koenig. 1980. Water dependence
of birds in a temperate oak
woodland. Auk 97:339-350.
Compiled from information from California Department of Fish and Game - California Interagency Wildlife Task Group