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  • Name:Black-capped Chickadee
  • Species:Poecile atricapillus
  • Order:Passeriformes
  • Family:Paridae

Black-capped Chickadee

Size & ShapeEdit

This tiny bird has a short neck and large head, giving it a distinctive, rather spherical body shape. It also has a long, narrow tail and a short bill a bit thicker than a warbler’s but thinner than a finch’s.

Color PatternEdit

The cap and bib are black, the cheeks white, the back soft gray, the wing feathers gray edged with white, and the underparts soft buffy on the sides grading to white beneath. The cap extends down just beyond the black eyes, making the small eyes tricky to see.

BehaviorEdit

Black-capped Chickadees seldom remain at feeders except to grab a seed to eat elsewhere. They are acrobatic and associate in flocks—the sudden activity when a flock arrives is distinctive. They often fly across roads and open areas one at a time with a bouncy flight. Chickadees are active, acrobatic, curious, social birds that live in flocks, often associating with woodpeckers, nuthatches, warblers, vireos, and other small woodland species. They feed on insects and seeds, but seldom perch within several feet of one another while taking food or eating. Flocks have many calls with specific meanings, and they may contain some of the characteristics of human language.

HabitatEdit

Chickadees may be found in any habitat that has trees or woody shrubs, from forests and woodlots to residential neighborhoods and parks, and sometimes weedy fields and cattail marshes. They frequently nest in birch or alder trees. Chickadees are found in deciduous and mixed forests, open woods, parks, willow thickets, cottonwood groves, and disturbed areas.

MeasurementsEdit

Both SexesEdit
Length
4.7–5.9 in

12–15 cm

Wingspan
6.3–8.3 in

16–21 cm

Weight
0.3–0.5 oz

9–14 g

Relative Size:Edit

Smaller than a sparrow

FoodEdit

In winter Black-capped Chickadees eat about half seeds, berries, and other plant matter, and half animal food (insects, spiders, suet, and sometimes fat and bits of meat from frozen carcasses). In spring, summer, and fall, insects, spiders, and other animal food make up 80-90 percent of their diet. At feeders they take mostly sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet, peanut butter, and mealworms. They peck a hole in the shell, and then chip out and eat tiny bits of seed while expanding the hole.

NestingEdit

Nesting DescriptionEdit

Both male and female chickadees excavate a cavity in a site usually selected by the female. Once the nest chamber is hollowed out (it averages 21 cm deep) the female builds the cup-shaped nest hidden within, using moss and other coarse material for the foundation and lining it with softer material such as rabbit fur.

Nest PlacementEdit

Nest boxes, small natural cavities, or abandoned Downy Woodpecker cavities; often excavate their own cavities. In the case of next boxes, seem to prefer to excavate wood shavings or sawdust rather than to take an empty box. Nests can be at ground level to more than 20 m high, but are usually between 1.5 and 7 m high. They tend to excavate in dead snags or rotten branches, and often select alder or birch.

Nesting FactsEdit

Clutch Size
1–13 eggs
Egg Length
0.6 in

1.5 cm

Egg Width
0.5 in

1.2 cm

Incubation Period
12–13 days
Nestling Period
12–16 days
Egg Description

White with fine reddish-brown dots or spots.

Condition at Hatching

Eyes closed, naked except for 6 small patches of mouse-gray downy feathers on the back and head.

ConservationEdit

Black-capped Chickadee populations are secure. Forest clearing for agriculture or development can increase the amount of forest edge, which can improve habitat for chickadees, and this species also benefits from people who keep bird feeders. As with many birds that nest in tree cavities, chickadees can suffer if land managers cut too many dead trees out of forests.

Least concern

Similar SpeciesEdit

Range MapEdit

Black-capped Chickadee Range map

ReferencesEdit

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black-capped_Chickadee/id