Black Capped Chickadee: Poecile atricapilla

FTLComm - Tisdale - Tuesday, November 23, 2004

We often consider most birds we see as only temporary visitors for part of the year and assume that most migrate to more suitable climates as the seasons change. This is not the case for all birds.

The Chickadee is a permanent resident. The one shown here is the Black Capped Chickadee is can found in the temporate region of North American from Virginia to British Columbia. They eat almost everything from insect eggs (preferred) to seeds and berries. They tend to ignore humans for the most part and one web site describes how to have them feed out of your hand by standing still under a tree with sunflower seeds in your outstreched hand.

The build simple shelters for nests which offer them some protection in really cold weather when several will huddle together in a nest to keep warm. During each mating season they are monogamous and tend to live in groups of about twenty or so.

They have some preditors to be concerned about. Crows and some other animals will raid their nest stealing eggs and they have been known to work together in aerial assault teams to protect their eggs or one another from a crow or cat. Despite their absolutely aerobatic flight capability they are sometimes victims of aerial predetors like the Merlin.

The Black Capped version is about five inches long and much slimmer and smaller than a sparrow and has its distinctive song that gives it its name. Young, old, male and female share the markings seen here and only the Carolina type is similar lacking the subtle bright area on the shoulder.

Timothy W. Shire

Peterson, Roger Tory A field guide to western birds, second edition, 1961, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Plate 45, page 167
Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapilla


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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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