/tit"mows'/, n., pl. titmice /-muys'/.
any of numerous, widely distributed, small songbirds of the family Paridae, esp. of the genus Parus, having soft, thick plumage and a short, stout, conical bill. Cf. tufted titmouse.
[1275-1325; ME tit(e)mose (see TIT1); mose, OE mase titmouse; c. G Meise titmouse, ON meis- in meisingr kind of bird; modern mouse by folk etym.]

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also called  tit,  plural  titmice  

      small cheery-voiced nonmigratory woodland bird. Along with the chickadees (chickadee), titmice make up the family Paridae (order Passeriformes (passeriform)), with 46 species throughout the world, mostly in the Northern Hemisphere.

      Bold and athletic, the titmice are among the best-loved visitors to bird feeders. Although they range in size from 11.5 to 20 cm (4.5 to 8 inches), most fall in the middle of this range (17 cm [6.5 inches]). Despite their small size, they are extremely athletic and hardy. Many live in the far north and are able to endure bitterly cold winters, in part thanks to their strategy of storing food in bark crevices or holes and remembering the locations for later retrieval. Special leg muscles enable them to hang upside down to feed, allowing them to feast on items such as insect eggs that might be missed by less-agile birds.

 Of the 10 North American species, the tufted titmouse (Parus bicolor) is the best known, ranging widely over the eastern United States, where its cheery whistled “peter-peter-peter” rings through deciduous woodlands (deciduous forest), orchards, and suburbs. Often attracted to bird feeders, this handsome crested little bird relishes sunflowers (sunflower), although insects make up two-thirds of its diet. Caterpillars (caterpillar) are important prey in summer. Five to nine eggs (egg) are laid in a hollow tree lined with soft materials that may include hair plucked live from startled woodchucks (woodchuck), dogs (dog), or humans. One of the offspring from the previous year may assist parents in raising the spring's nestlings. The presence of winter bird feeders has helped the tufted titmouse increase its range into southern Canada.

      In Europe and Asia, the blue tit (Parus caeruleus), with its light yellow belly and bluish wings, is an equally popular visitor to bird feeders, where it is renowned for its agility. Of all the birds that feed their own young, this species lays the largest clutch in the world; it can lay as many as 15 eggs. In woodlands, blue tits are often seen feeding with other tits, such as the great tit (Parus major). This widespread, adaptable species is found from Great Britain through Russia to Japan and southern Asia. It is a common visitor to backyards and lays its eggs in drainpipes, mailboxes, and hollow trees.

Sy Montgomery

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Titmouse — Tit mouse , n.; pl. {Titmice}. [OE. titemose, titmase; tit small, or a small bird + AS. m[=a]se a kind of small bird; akin to D. mees a titmouse, G. meise, OHG. meisa, Icel. meisingr. The English form has been influenced by the unrelated word… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • titmouse — [tit′mous΄] n. pl. titmice [tit′mīs΄] [altered, infl. by MOUSE < ME titemose, prob. < tit , little + OE mase, titmouse, akin to Ger meise] any of a family (Paridae) of small passerine birds found throughout the world except in South America …   English World dictionary

  • titmouse — (n.) small, active bird, early 14c., titmose, from TIT (Cf. tit) (n.2) (expressing something small) + O.E. mase titmouse, from P.Gmc. *maison (Cf. Du. mees, Ger. meise), from adj. *maisa little, tiny. Spelling influenced 16c. by unrelated mo …   Etymology dictionary

  • titmouse — ► NOUN (pl. titmice) ▪ a small songbird, typically foraging acrobatically among foliage and branches. ORIGIN from TIT(Cf. ↑tit) + obsolete mose «titmouse» …   English terms dictionary

  • titmouse — noun (plural titmice) Etymology: by folk etymology from Middle English titmose, from *tit any small object or creature + mose titmouse, from Old English māse; akin to Old High German meisa titmouse Date: 14th century any of several small North… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • titmouse — UK [ˈtɪtˌmaʊs] / US noun [countable] Word forms titmouse : singular titmouse plural titmice a small bird …   English dictionary

  • titmouse — tit•mouse [[t]ˈtɪtˌmaʊs[/t]] n. pl. mice [[t] ˌmaɪs[/t]] orn any of various small, stout billed songbirds of the family Paridae, esp. of the genus Parus, found in most of the world outside of Australasia and South America • Etymology: 1275–1325;… …   From formal English to slang

  • titmouse — noun (plural titmice) a small songbird, typically foraging acrobatically among foliage and branches. [Many species, chiefly in the family Paridae.] Origin ME: from tit1 + obs. mose titmouse (assimilated to mouse) …   English new terms dictionary

  • titmouse — /ˈtɪtmaʊs/ (say titmows) noun (plural titmice /ˈtɪtmaɪs/ (say titmuys)) any of various small birds constituting the family Paridae, as Parus atricapillus of the New and Old Worlds. {Middle English titmose, from tit1 + mose (Old English māse)… …  

  • titmouse — n. (pl. titmice) any of various small tits, esp. of the genus Parus. Etymology: ME titmose f. TIT(1) + OE mase titmouse, assim. to MOUSE …   Useful english dictionary

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