The Tufted Titmouse, a novel guest

North Mississippi Regional Park is in a great location for birders in Minnesota. Located along the Mississippi River, it is home to a diverse bird population and is a part of one of the largest migration flight paths in the United States. Even though we are in the city, the Mississippi River Flyway brings a wide range of birds into the park.

The last few days of October 2016 were an exciting time for visitors and birders at the Kroening Interpretive Center. A bird rare to the area, the Tufted Titmouse, was spotted at the feeders. Minnesota is the northwestern most area of their habitat. These birds are most commonly found in Eastern Deciduous Forests, although they have been seen as far west as Kansas.

Tufted Titmice are very round and have a large crested head which makes them look bigger than other songbirds. These songbirds are grey on top with a lighter cream colored belly. They have subtle orange spots under their wings and a speck of black above their stout beak. In the summer they eat insects such as caterpillars, ants and spiders. In the winter, however, they are frequent visitors of bird feeders and largely eat sunflower seeds and peanuts. Similar to their relative the chickadee, Tufted Titmice hoard their food for the winter, usually close to the source of food. So, when watching them at a feeder you’ll notice how they are only at the feeder briefly to grab a seed and then they’re off to stash it away for later.

Tufted Titmice nest in tree cavities, but because of their short beaks they cannot make their own holes. Instead, they find natural holes or ones left by woodpeckers. They line their nest with hair from animals such as raccoons, possums, squirrels and rabbits. Even human hair has been found in their nests! Since Tufted Titmice do not migrate, hopefully it will make regular appearances at the Kroening Interpretive Center’s bird feeders throughout the winter. Stop in to ask about the most recent sighting, or follow us on Facebook for any updates.

Come out to Kroening Interpretive Center at North Mississippi Regional Park and watch the birds from our inside viewing area or check out a pair of binoculars and take a walk around the park. Join us on weekends for free activities!  Saturdays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. stop by our Naturalist’s Nature Table where we’ll have themed activities and a craft. Sundays from 12:30-3:30 p.m. drop in for Family Funday, grab an activity bag full of fun for the whole family and head out into the park for some nature adventures. Look for our table at Camden’s Holiday on 44th event on Friday, December 2 at Patrick Henry High. Stop by and make a special bird treat!

December Public Programs

(All children under 12 are free, but must be accompanied by a registered adult). Dec. 10 Ginger-Bird Houses – create an edible house for the birds 1-3 p.m., all ages, $10. Dec. 16 Winter Solstice Celebration – rejoice longer days with celestial activities, 6-8 p.m., all ages, $5. Dec. 24 Snowshoeing – borrow snowshoes to explore the park, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., all ages, free. Dec. 31 Early Birding – try birding on snowshoes, 9-10:30 a.m., all ages, free. Dec. 31 Snowshoeing – borrow snowshoes to explore the park, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., all ages, free.

Children’s Winter Break Camps

Dec. 19-22 Winter Whimsy Camp.  8 a.m.-4 p.m. (M-TH), ages 6-12, $60. Dec. 27-30 Frozen Planet Camp, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (T-F), ages 6-12, $60.

For more info or to register visit and like us on Facebook to stay in the loop about what’s happening in our park!