Psaltriparus minimus

A very small, drab gray bird with a long tail and a social nature. Bushtits are usually found in flocks of up to 40 individuals, often mixed in with other specie

Cool Facts

Photo taken from:
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by David Allen Sibley
  • The Bushtit is the only member of its family in the Americas; seven other species are found in Eurasia. All have similar complex hanging nests.
  • All family members sleep together in the complex nest during breeding, but they leave it after the young fledge, and sleep on branches.
  • The nest is an impressive, woven, hanging basket with a hole high up on the side of the nest and a passageway to the nest chamber at the bottom. It can be up to a foot long, and is generally built of spider webs, moss, lichen, and other plant material.
  • Both the male and female will incubate the eggs, sometimes even at the same time.
  • This bird often has helpers at the nest, birds other than the parental pair that feed nestlings. All family members sleep together in the complex nest during breeding, but they leave it after the young fledge, and sleep on branches.


Adult Description

  • Very small bird.
  • Long tail and short wings.
  • Plain gray-brown without markings.

Immature Description

Eyes dark. Female's eyes become light within a month of fledging.
Range Map
Taxonomic Hierarchy


© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Aegithalidae
Genus: Psaltriparus
Species: Psaltriparus minimus
  • Psaltriparus minimus californicus
  • Psaltriparus minimus cecaumenorum
  • Psaltriparus minimus grindae
    Psaltriparus minimus lloydi
  • Psaltriparus minimus melanurus
  • Psaltriparus minimus minimus
  • Psaltriparus minimus plumbeus
  • Psaltriparus minimus socialbilis
Calls given constantly by flock. Contact call is distinct "tsit" or "spit." Also high pitched, bell-like "sre-e-e-e."

Identification and Information
See Anatomy of a Bird
  • Length Range: 11 cm (4.5 in)
  • Weight: 6 g (0.2 oz)
  • Size: Very Small (3 - 5 in)
  • Color Primary: Gray
  • Underparts: White with gray wash; sometimes washed in buff.
  • Upperparts: Gray
  • Back Pattern: Solid
  • Belly Pattern: Solid
  • Breast Pattern: Solid
  • Bill Shape: All-purpose
  • Eye Color: Dark brown in all juveniles and adult males; in adult females, becomes white, pale yellow, or gray after fledging.
  • Head Pattern: Capped, Plain, Unique pattern
  • Crown Color: Pale Brown
  • Forehead Color: Pale Brown
  • Nape Color: Gray
  • Throat Color: Pale Gray
  • Cere color: No Data
  • Flight Pattern: Weak fluttering flights of short duration.
  • Wingspan Range: 18 cm (7 in)
  • Wing Shape: Rounded-Wings
  • Tail Shape: Fan-shaped Tail
  • Tail Pattern: Solid
  • Upper Tail: Gray
  • Under Tail: Gray
  • Leg Color: Gray-black
  • Breeding Location: Forest
  • Breeding Type: Cooperative, Communal
  • Breeding Population: Fairly common to common
  • Egg Color: White
  • Number of Eggs: 3 - 7
  • Incubation Days: 11 - 14
  • Egg Incubator: Both sexes
  • Nest Material: Wood chips in base of cavity.
  • Migration: Migratory
  • Condition at Hatching: Naked and helpless.

Other Names

Similar Species

  • Mésange buissonniere (French)
  • Sastrecillo (Spanish)
  • American Bushtit (English)
  • Oak and Juniper titmice have short crests.
  • Immature Verdin is small and all gray, but has a pointed bill, a shorter tail, and is paler.

Conservation Status

Adapts well to suburbs. Range slowly expanding north and west.


Sources used to Construct this Page:

  • Found in a variety of habitats, ranging from forested mountain to arid brush.
  • Prefers open mixed woodland with some evergreens or shrubby understory.
  • Common in suburban areas.
  • Sloane, S. A. 2001. Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus). In The Birds of North America, No. 598 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
Small insects and spiders.
Gleans insects off foliage. Often hangs upside down. Uses one foot to bend back foliage to expose middle of clumps.Huddle together on branches in cold weather.

Adult Sexes Similar

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Additional Photos & Video

Adult Sexes Similar

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All photos © 2008 Rick Swartzentrover - Free for non-profit use.

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