If you live east of the Mississippi River and host a bird feeder, it's likely the tufted titmouse is a frequent visitor. Whether your tufted titmice visitors are male or female isn't easy to discern, as both sexes look pretty much alike. Some subtle distinctions between the two give hints regarding gender.
Tufted Titmouse Forehead Patches
Both tufted titmice sexes have gray bodies with orange or buff underparts and a small crest, or tuft, on the head. They also have black forehead patches, which you might need binoculars to see clearly. A 2000 study by researchers from Eastern Kentucky State University found that the size of this patch related to dominance in the species, with birds with larger patches exhibiting more dominant behaviors. Male tufted titmice are more dominant than females and also sported larger forehead patches.
Gender Behavioral Differences
Since it's tough to tell the difference between the male and female tufted titmouse based on sight, you'll have to watch and listen to these little birds to figure out their genders. Not only are these birds attracted to feeders, but will raise their young in backyard nest boxes if you provide them. That gives you the opportunity to see the behavior of these lifelong breeding pairs and figure out which is which. Before you spot the hen sitting on eggs, you'll hear the male singing his courtship songs. Males also warble their famed "Peter Peter" call more often than females.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.