Melanistic Tufted Titmouse
By Tony Ianniello
and Ken Field, of the Amawalk area of Somers just west of the Amawalk Reservoir
and members of Bedford Audubon, noticed an unusual bird visiting their feeder in
a tree just off the back deck of their home. Debbie said that the bird had taken
up residence there since it was always around the yard.
She attended David Bonterís Project Feederwatch
Program at our November 10 meeting at the Katonah Village Library. David is
Leader of the Project Feederwatch Program at Cornellís Lab of Ornithology. He
asked that she try to get some pictures of the bird so we could document it. She
was sure it was a Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) but the coloring
was darker than the usual slate gray on its back, and the chest and underbelly
were more like a robinís, a rusty orange.
Our own Bill Wallace went over to see it and
confirmed that it was indeed a titmouse. Debbie and Ken had some photos
developed and sent them off to David. Our little friend seems to be a melanistic
titmouse. A melanistic bird has excessive pigmentation, giving it a darker
It became apparent that the melanistic Tufted
Titmouse was not the only unusual visitor in Somers during this time. As I
watched the feeder from inside one evening while visiting the Fields, I noticed
two little critters flitting about between the feeder and the tree branches. I
thought they were bats, but Debbie said that they were two flying squirrels.
Perhaps the size of chipmunks, these little guys had very large eyes and were a
real treat to watch as they darted around the feeder.
So we see that there are signs of natureís more
elusive discoveries out there in our local areas. We just need to experience
them and enjoy them. We thank Debbie and Ken for the entertainment! If anyone
else has a story to share, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be
more than happy to share it with our members.
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