Our new feeding station on the deck railing outside the kitchen table window has been a busy, busy place these past two weeks. The weather has taken a decided turn for winter. The naturally occurring food supply—fruits, berries, seeds, late insects—has been diminished, so our seed, nut, and suet-eating friends are coming to our feeders in greater volume.
Tufted titmice, I've noticed, are hit-and-run eaters. Normally they drop in, hop onto a feeder, grab a seed or peanut, then fly off to a handy perch to consume it. One titmouse seems to want more from his foraging visits. He tries to take more than a single bit of food. Does he perhaps have some blue jay or American crow in his ancestry? Those well-known gluttons will gobble up several food items, filling up their throats before adding one or two more pieces, held firmly in the bill. These corvid family members will cache food—hiding it for later consumption, but that's not as well known as a behavior in titmice. However, it turns out that they DO cache food, too.
This particular titmouse was intent on getting another peanut into his bill, perhaps for caching. But every time he'd pry one loose, it would fall before he could grab it. The piece he had in the back of his bill prevented him from getting a secure grip on a second nut. Notice I am assuming this was a "he" even though TUTIs are not sexually dimorphic. This just seemed like typical behavior for a male.
As he tried, other birds would land on the peanut feeder and he would try to chase them off. Most fled, but not the male red-bellied woodpecker. He parked himself on the feeder and stayed put. I watched as the peanut dust flew and the level of nuts in the feeder dropped noticeably.