Saturday, 9 February 2013

Some Useful Guide About Your Backyard Birds

Your Backyard Birds: Black-Capped Chickadee

Author: Bill Askenburg

Black-Capped Chickadee

Scientific Name:  Poecile atricapilla


The state bird of Maine and Massachusetts, the Black-Capped Chickadee is a small, common songbird in the Tit family generally found throughout Alaska, Canada and the northern United States.
Their rounded head, distinctive black cap, white cheeks and long narrow tail make them easily identifiable in the suburban backyard.  Their innate curiosity makes them likely to be the first birds to discover a new garden feeder, and their nests can be found in the backyard by observing and following them carrying wood chips while they excavate a nesting cavity.
The male and female look alike, although males tend to be a little longer and heavier.  Black-Capped Chickadees have an average life span of about 2-3 years.


Identification Facts

Head to Tail Length: 4 - 5 inches
Distinctive Features: round head, black crown and throat, white cheeks, short bill, pale gray top, gray to ruddy orange bottom
Male & Female Characteristics: very similar, males are a little longer and heavier

Songs & Calls

The Black-Cap Chickadee’s vocalizations are very complex in meaning and use.   Their song is a simple, clear whistle of two notes, identical in rhythm sounding like bee-bay.  The song is used to maintain contact with the flock, as the males only sing when in relative isolation from other chickadees.
Their most familiar call is chick-a-dee-dee-dee, which gave this bird its name.  It is commonly a warning message and includes variations for specific predators.  Research has shown that the number of dees in a call relates to the severity of the threat from nearby predators.

Nesting Behavior

BBS Summer Distribution Map, 1994 - 2003
Distribution: Alaska, Canada and northern US
Nest Type: cavity nesters
Breeding Season: April - May (depending on region), laying eggs shortly after building nest.  One brood per season
Migration: do not migrate, rather form “foraging flocks” in winter - traveling from area to area for food together for safety.
Nest Facts: Both male and female excavate for the nest, but only the female builds the nest.  To find their nest in your backyard, follow Black-Capped Chickadees carrying wood chips, because they commonly are seen carrying chips away from inside their nesting cavity.
They typically lay 6-8 eggs, and incubation lasts about two weeks, with only the female showing responsibility.  When eggs begin to hatch, the male brings most of the food so the female can continue to warm the eggs.
Once all of the eggs are hatched, both parents bring the nestlings food.  Fledglings leave the nest approximately 5-7 weeks after hatching.


Food Type: primarily eat insects, snails, seeds and berries. Seed mixes that include black oil sunflower seeds, gray striped sunflower seeds, peanut kernels, hulled sunflower seeds will attract Black Capped-Chickadees.  They especially enjoy insect or fruit suet.

Similar species

Carolina Chickadee - Telling the difference between the Black-Capped and Carolina is virtually impossible, with the most obvious difference between them being their songs. Black-capped sings a two note song while Carolina sings a four note song.
Chestnut-Backed Chickadees - reside along the coast of the Pacific Northwest, ranging from Central California up into Canada.
Boreal and Chestnut-backed Chickadees have more brown in their plumages than the Black-capped.

Article Source:
About the Author
“by Bill Askenburg, Owner - New England Birdhouse. We specialize in fine architectural bird houses and feeders, offering handcrafted custom and stock replica bird houses and backyard birding supplies and garden decor. For more information or articles please visit our blog.”