Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bushtit, not titmouse

I took this picture today at Stanley Park.  I was very excited to see some birds flying in and out of the nest that Dalyce pointed out yesterday (previous post).  I couldn't see them clearly, but one of them shows up fairly well in the photo (if you click on it), so I have now taken my first picture ever of.....
...Not a titmouse.  But, a bushtit.

Yes, I got it wrong.  Interesting how the mind works.  Here's the story.  Last night, after Dalyce pointed out what I remembered as a titmouse nest, I came home, eager to tell Bill about it.  He is always supportive of my interests, but I would have to say that birds may not make his top three list of most exciting things in life.  However, he definitely liked the name titmouse, and we had a somewhat lengthy and humorous discussion about why.  It amounted to being able to say the word "tit" out loud and up front with no apology to anyone.  He then googled the origin of the word as it applies to birds, and confirmed what he had already guessed, that it means small.

Dalyce sent me an e-mail today, and when I read it, I laughed out loud.  Here is a quote from her message:
About your blog, you might want to correct the bushtit's nest name; I also used to call them titmouses (something about the word "tit" sticks in our minds, eh?) Took me years to get "bushtit" right!

I was amused by my mistake, but curious about my link in yesterday's post to a blogger who  rehabbed a titmouse.  Surely, we weren't both making up a new bird species. I was relieved to find that, such a thing as a titmouse exists.  I googled titmouse and bushtit this evening, and found some pictures and information to compare and contrast these two birds.

I imagine you have already guessed that today I visited the heronry, again. But, with only an afternoon visit, I 

feel less inclined to think of myself as obsessed.  Phew!

My favorite picture of the day was this crow.  He spent quite some time watching me take pictures of the herons. I could swear he muttered, "It's about time," when I finally turned my attention in his direction.  I think he was rather pleased to pose for me.

I also liked these daffodils (trevithian, I think).  Bill says they make him think of diesel train horns, or an 18-wheeler horn.  He says to take your pick.
I sat on the curb to take the photos, so the trees look very small, or perhaps, the flowers huge.
(Sorry about the traffic sign in the back.)

No winning heron photo here, but I think this fellow, aiming for the nest, looks cool in mostly black and white tones.
The little nesting series to follow does not show Stanley and Stella, but another couple, as afternoon shots of Stanley and Stella's nest are not possible with the sun position.  Now I need two more names, so I will have an identifiable morning and afternoon pair.  Here the male comes in for the landing, twig in mouth.  Only part of the female made it into the picture, but, to me, something in her body position denotes her encouragement of his efforts.
He now moves past her, and gets in position to pass the twig.  These two have the barest beginnings of a nest.  I look forward to watching it grow.  I sure hope they can work quickly!
I love the way they each take on the same stance in this and the next picture.  Here, they lean to their right.  He has a twig in his mouth, but I could swear he's smiling.
Here, they both look up.  Do you notice the nest looks ever so slightly more substantial?
Many thanks to both Jean and EvenSong for offering great name suggestions for Stanley's mate.  I ended up going with EvenSong's idea of Stella, both for the alliteration and because Bill liked the Streetcar Named Desire reference. I hope that reference doesn't jinx Stanley and Stella's relationship.  The sexual chemistry alluded to is fine, but no emotional abuse, please, Stanley!

All suggestions for names for the afternoon pair welcomed!


  1. Carol thanks for the clarification. I love reading about your birding experiences. BTW you said: ' However, he definitely liked the name titmouse, and we had a somewhat lengthy and humorous discussion about why.' - I would too, titmouse, killdeer - and who in the world is coming out with these names, lol....Anna :)

  2. Anna, I found this information by googling:
    "The name titmouse is attested from the 14th century, composed of the Old English name for the bird, mase (Proto-Germanic *maison, German Meise) and tit, denoting something small."

    Also, Bill googled "killdeer" this morning (after reading your comment) and learned that the killdeer is named because of the sound it makes. Thanks for commenting! You helped me learn something new:)

  3. I TOTALLY missed the Streetcar allusion! And I'm an ex-theater major!
    Maybe Jean should get the honor of the next couple's naming--maybe Porky and Petunia? ;-D

  4. EvenSong, I suspect Streetcar was playing on your subconscious:) I like Jean's suggestion of Serena, and have decided to couple it with Sam (my horse was Sam) for the afternoon pair.