|Species: Black-capped Chickadee
Chickadee is one of the most familiar and widespread birds in North
America. It ranges from coast to coast, including much of Canada and
about the northern two thirds of the United States. Despite its vast
range, this species is remarkably homogeneous in its genetic
make-up. As Black-capped Chickadees are resident throughout their
range, northern populations must withstand winters of short days and
very cold temperatures. Under such conditions, they can lower their
body temperature at night and enter regulated hypothermia, saving
significant amounts of energy. In addition, they store food and have
exceptional spatial memory to relocate it, even a month later.
common bird in the tit family Paridae the Black-capped Chickadee is
one of the first birds most people learn due to their inquisitive
nature and quickness to discover bird feeders. The chickadee’s black
cap and bib; white cheeks; gray back, wings, and tail; and whitish
underside with buffy sides are distinctive.
cm) 5.25 inches; mass 10–14 g. Solid black cap and bib, white
cheeks, unstreaked greenish gray back, buffy flanks and crissum,
dark grayish wings and tail. Pale edgings on the wing coverts and
flight feathers. Bill black; legs and toes bluish gray, iris dark
brown. Wings rounded with 10 primaries. Tail long.
Sexes alike in plumage, with males slightly longer than females in
wing and tail, and slightly heavier. Within sexes, adult wings
longer than those of younger birds (and average lengths vary with
Juvenal plumage essentially the same as adults in overall pattern,
but somewhat looser in texture. Similar to adults, but cap duller
and feathers softer and shorter.
Carolina Chickadee Poecile carolinensis and Mountain Chickadee
Poecile gambeli. The Black-capped is brighter, more colorful and
more contrastingly marked than the Carolina, though variation and
hybrids are recorded in the narrow band of overlap. Mountain is
lsightly longer-billed and longer-winged with white supercilium.
Behavior: Hop on trees or (less frequently) on the ground while
foraging. Rarely “walk” along twigs or branches while hanging
upside-down; can also creep along more-or-less vertical trunks while
foraging. Flight is slightly undulating with rapid wing beats; most
flights are less than 15 m long.
Deciduous and mixed deciduous/coniferous woodland, open woods and
parks, willow thickets, and cottonwood groves. Also disturbed areas,
such as old fields or suburban areas, where suitable nest sites are
available with sufficient foliage to support adequate food for
dependent offspring. Generally more common near edges of wooded
areas, but can be found even in the middle of large wooded tracts.
Often found in, though not confined to, areas where birch or alder
trees occur; these provide both food and nest sites.
Chickadees are seen
most readily during winter when nonbreeding flocks visit feeders.
Winter populations may contain both regular flock members, which
typically spend the whole winter in a single flock, and also winter
floaters—birds whose home range includes that of 3 to 5 flocks, with
an established position in the dominance hierarchy of each one.
Under suitable conditions, a high-ranked bird that disappears from a
flock may be replaced by a floater, which assumes the rank, and
pairs with the mate of the vanished bird. Such replacements
evidently occur only where floater density is high.
BC status Yellow.
Forest clearing for agriculture can increase forest edge, preferred
habitat for chickadees. Feeders enhance chickadee survival and
overzealous forest management can reduce or eliminate natural nest
sites. Where natural sites are rare, nest boxes may be accepted,
especially if partially filled with sawdust.
Year-round residents of the Lower Mainland, Black-capped
Chickadee capture rates (2010-2012; standardized as birds
captured per 100 net hours) peak in winter months when
non-breeding winter foraging flocks of 3 to 12 individuals