A large flock of Bushtits sweep through our yard occasionally. Though not a typical “feeder” bird, like many insectivores, they may be drawn in by a water source or a suet block. There are 11 members of the genus Aegithalos, but only one is found in North America! These friendly birds with the funny name will often forage a foot away from a quiet, respectful human.
Their usual Spring song, a series of squeaky toy noises, is replaced in the Fall by quiet chirps that seem to keep the flock loosely together. When one bird leaves a tree, the others follow, not in a big rush but leisurely peeling off, one by one. If there happens to be a predator, such as a Cooper’s Hawk, nearby, they pull out another distinct cry, louder but no less enchanting, a murmuration and confirmation as if they are saying, “Yes! We see you!”. Another interesting feature is that you can tell the males from the females, as the females have lovely yellow eyes. I don’t like that guidebooks call these little birds “drab”; their personality is more than colorful enough!