Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapilla)
The Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapilla) is one of the most popular bird species in North America. This cute little bird with its cheerful hop can be seen frequenting bird feeders throughout the year. A marvelous little bird, the Black-Capped Chickadee has a number of fascinating behaviors and is a delight in any garden. Living throughout Canada, the range of the Black-Capped Chickadee extends from Newfoundland through to British Columbia and up to Yukon all across the North-west Territories. Be sure to look out for this lively bird when in those areas.
The Black-Capped Chickadee is a small bird species measuring about 5 inches, or 12 cm. They have a short bill and distinctive black crown and bib with bright white cheeks. The upper parts of the bird are gray whilst the wing coverts are edged in white. A rusty color marks the flanks whilst the underparts are gray-white. Black-Capped Chickadees have complex calls, forming their own language. Chickadees travel in small flocks and have a distinctive hierarchy. The more aggressive the bird, the higher the bird’s rank. High ranking birds receive privileges such as the best food, safest areas and they tend to have greater survival rates. Pairing also takes place according to rank.
Foraging begins at sunrise for Black-Capped Chickadees. Hopping along through the trees the little birds seek out tasty creatures in all the little cracks and holes. Their diet includes insect eggs, larvae, weevils, sawflies and other little creatures. During summer and fall, the Black-Capped Chickadees begin storing food, hiding it under bark, in lichen patches and so forth. These remarkable birds are able to remember thousands of hiding spots. In colder times they will dine on seeds which provide more energy.
Black-Capped Chickadee courtship begins in February and March. Slowly the flock pairs off in search of a nesting place. Males rigorously defend the area against intruders. The nest is made in a hole that the pair dig in a dead stump or rotting wood. The female chickadee will lay 5 to 10 eggs. Incubation lasts 13 to 14 days, and within 16 to 17 days, the young Black-Capped Chickadees can leave the nest, while being fed by their parents for another 2 to 3 weeks.
Black-Capped Chickadees are great garden pest controllers and friendly creatures to have around, so why not make efforts to protect this hardy bird species.