tufted-titmouse

10 Birds With Crests Of North America (Explained)

Some birds have beautiful feathers, some are tiny and cute, but what about the ones with tufted crests? There are many North American birds that fit this description.

The tufted crest is a small part of the bird’s head that extends out and often sticks up, which can be used for different purposes. For example, some birds use their crests to show off or attract mates or when they feel threatened.

The crested birds of North America have some of the most beautiful tufted feathers in the world. There are 10 different types of birds with tufted crests that live here, and we will provide you with a list to help you identify them.

Steller’s Jay

Steller's Jay
Image by Diana Roberts from Pixabay

The Steller’s Jay is a bird found in western United States throughout the northern Rockies, and Mexico, and one of the most recognizable species. Steller’s Jay are large, black-headed jays with a shimmering blue body, with a crest of feathers on its head, giving it an exotic appearance. Steller’s Jays are often found in scrub forests, chaparral brushlands, high elevation conifer, coniferous forests or woodlands, where they build their nests in trees or bushes.

They also live on prairies with scattered trees that provide perches for nesting as well as shade from the hot sun during summer months. Steller’s Jays eat mostly acorns, pine nuts, fruit, insects, and small rodents which they find on the ground or steal from other birds who store their food there. Steller’s Jays live up to 10-15 years old in the wild but can live as long as 30 years when in captivity. 

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Blue Jays are very common birds in North America. They can be found anywhere from California to Canada, and they’re the only bird that can be found year-round in all 50 states. The blue jay is known for its bright blue crest and black throat feathers. They live mainly in woodlands, scrubby areas, suburban areas, and farmlands.

The diet of the Blue Jay consists of nuts, berries, insects, eggs, and chicks from other bird species. Blue Jays are common visitors to bird feeders where they can eat sunflower seeds, peanuts, safflower seed, or mixed seed blends. Blue Jays can be seen flying across fields looking for food during their migration season which begins in late March​​​​​​​.

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Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

Watch out for the Northern Cardinal. It’s more common than you think, and it may be in your backyard. This bird can be found on the ground, or in trees or bushes as it hops from branch to branch. The Northern Cardinal is a large, mostly red bird that can be found all over North America from Eastern Canada to Southern Mexico.

In addition to their bright coloration, they are recognizable by their pointed crest, which gives them an angry look. Males have a more pronounced crest than female cardinals. They typically feed on seeds, nuts and berries as well as small insects such as spiders or caterpillars but occasionally eat some fruits. 

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Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

In the eastern United States, we have a cute little bird called the Tufted Titmouse. They are small, and you might not think twice about them as they fly around your backyard but don’t let their adorable exterior fool you! The Tufted Titmouse is known for eating insects like ants, beetles, spiders and crickets. They will also eat seeds from grasses or acorns that it cracks open with its beak to get at the seed inside. ​​​​​​​

They are known for their small beaks and fluffy, tufted crowns that give them a “fuzzy” appearance. Their preferred habitat includes deciduous forests, woodland edges, hedgerows, parks, suburban gardens and open woodlands with dense understory vegetation. Titmice can often be seen in residential areas and other man-made habitats during the winter months when food becomes scarce​​​​​​​.

Oak Titmouse

Oak Titmice are small grayish-brown birds with a tufted crest that can be lowered and raised when they feel threatened. They prefer to live in the dense forests and mixed woodlands throughout North America and eat insects, seeds, berries, and acorns. Oak Titmice will often feed on the ground, but they have also been known to feed on fruit or flowers from low-hanging branches as well as fruits and nuts on tree limbs. 

​​​​​​​It’s very hard to tell males and females apart because they look so similar! They’re only found in some parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Kentucky.​​​​​​​ Oak Titmice have a distinctive call of “tsee tsee tsee” which is used to warn other Oak Titmice about predators nearby. The call becomes more intense as the predator gets closer to them or if they feel threatened by it.​​​​​​​

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing
Image by shyanni from Pixabay

This beautiful bird is called a Cedar Waxwing. It’s mainly brown, gray, and yellow with a facemask and tufted crest. This species of bird has an extensive breeding range from Alaska to the East Coast of North America as well as parts of Asia. They are non-migratory in Canada where their breeding season lasts from May to July. They are common in North America during the winter months when they feed on berries of evergreen trees such as juniper. ​​​​​​​

The cedar waxwing feeds on berries and insects to keep their body weight up during winter months when food sources are scarce. These beautiful birds live in deciduous forests orchards, parks and gardens during the winter months of October to April as they migrate south into Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to warmer weather.​​​​​​​

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

Pileated Woodpeckers are native to North America and have been seen in many parts of North America including Colorado, Florida, Maine, Minnesota, New York State, Texas and Virginia. They can be found in deciduous forests, woodland edges, urban parks, and suburban areas. They use their sharp beaks to drill into trees to find insects such as ants or beetle larvae, or any other ground-based insect that they can find, as well as small mammals and fruits.

They are the largest woodpecker in the United States with a body length of 16-18 inches and a wingspan of 27-30 inches. The Pileated Woodpecker has a large red crest on its head, with black plumage throughout, and white stripes on the face, and down the neck. They are known to be very territorial when it comes to their nesting sites and feeding areas. ​​​​​​​

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher
Image by Rigoberto Díaz from Pixabay

The Vermilion Flycatcher is a small, beautiful red bird with black wings and a tufted red crest. Averaging 5″ inches long with an average wingspan of 9.5″ inches wide this bright little bird is well known for its striking appearance as well as its song which sounds like “clear- sweet notes.” It lives in Southwestern United States, Central America, Southern Mexico, Southwestern United States and Eastern Guatemala.

The Vermilion Flycatcher feeds on insects such as grasshoppers, dragonflies and beetles. This can be found in fields of cacti or near the water’s edge where it looks for its prey by perching motionless for long periods of time​​​​​​​. They are very territorial and will defend their nests from predators at all costs. When this doesn’t work they will fly away and start to alarm call in order to draw attention of other nearby birds or animals.​​​​​​​

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

Ruby Crowned Kinglet
Image by Styx9 from Pixabay

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a small bird typically between 3.5 and 4 inches long with wingspans of 6 to 7 inches, that can be found in North America. It is also known as the crowned kinglet, and it has a crest on its head that resembles the shape of a king’s crown. The male Ruby-crowned Kinglet can be identified by his red cap, which he wears year round, while females have gray caps with streaks of white across them. 

The bird lives mostly near water sources, such as ponds or streams, and typically eats insects such as ants, beetles, flies, spiders and other invertebrates from the ground or foliage around them. They will also eat berries and seeds when they are available. Watch for this small bird with an elegant song near your home. They are often mistaken for chickadees or other similar birds due to their appearance.

Gold-crowned Kinglet

Gold-crowned Kinglet
Image by NickyPe from Pixabay

The Gold-crowned Kinglet is a very small bird known for its golden colored crest. These birds are about 4 inches long and weigh less than 1 ounce. The kinglets diet consists of insects as well as some fruit, nectar, and seeds when they’re available. They can be found in the western United States, Canada, Alaska, Mexico and Central America. In North America these birds nest in coniferous forests from March to September.

They build their nests on tree branches and feed on insects during this time of year. During the winter months they migrate southward to warmer climates. This beautiful little songbird is very skittish and usually stays in dense foliage or other places where it can’t be seen easily. It’s no wonder that most people don’t know what this kinglet looks like!