Last week I wrote about some of the places in our area that are great for bird-watching. The Rio Rancho Bosque is great,but another wonderful location is the Bachechi Open Space off of Rio Grande Boulevard.
On a recent visit to the Bachechi Open Space I was able to see many species of birds, but my favorite this particular day was the Bushtit. (Who names these birds anyway?) They are so much fun to watch!
The Bushtit is a very tiny bird, that measures only four inches at most. Males and females are very plain and gray in color, and the only way to distinguish between them is by their eye color. Females have a very light, almost silver eye, while the male has a dark eye.
This bird is very common in our area throughout the year, but they’re tricky to see if they’re hidden deep within a bush. Once they emerge they are fascinating to watch as an entire flock moves in single-file from one bush to another. As I listen to them call to one another it’s almost as if they’re saying to one another, “we’re in this bush over here, friend, hurry!” Their calls are very high and short twittering sounds, and are very distinctive from other birds.
These little birds eat mostly insects, but will also eat berries and seeds. The most fascinating fact about these birds are their nesting behaviors. In the springtime, the flock breaks apart and pairs of Bushtits will find a suitable mate with whom to build a nest. They will then build a long sack of twigs woven together, with a hole near the top that leads down into a pocket lined with feathers and other downy material. They will, however, easily abandon a site if they’re disturbed by other birds or creatures.
The mated pair will lay five to seven small, white eggs that will hatch after about 12 days. They will share rearing responsibilities, even sleeping in the nest together until their young leave the nest, usually about two weeks after hatching.
Keep your eyes and ears peeled for these quick little birds. They’re just a joy to watch!
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