Support
Subscribe
Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.

DONATE

You are here

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Related shows:

Black-capped Chickadee

If you hang a simple feeder outside your window, you might attract this Black-capped Chickadee and many other birds. Fill the feeder and install it close to any room where you spend time. Hang the feeder within three feet of the window to keep the birds from colliding with the glass. That way, if... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding, vocalization

Black-capped Chickadee - Birdbrain?

In spring, the Black-capped Chickadee adds a new vocalization to its repertoire. When breeding season begins, the tiny brains of Black-capped Chickadees and other songbirds enlarge to enable the birds to create more sounds. After the breeding season is over and the birds no longer need that... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  science

Chickadees at Dawn

Chickadees and nuthatches swirl in small chattering flocks in the first light, to drink dew from the cups of leaves. Birds are gifted, as Henry Beston wrote, "with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  reflection

Chickadees in Winter

How do Black-capped Chickadees manage to survive the rigors of winter at high latitudes? For survival, chickadees have three things going for them: they're insulated, they're active, and they have a good memory. Thanks to a half-inch coat of feathers, the Black-capped Chickadee maintains its body... read more »

RELATED

Why Do Chickadees Come and Go?

A chickadee comes in to the feeder, quickly grabs a seed, and flies away. It may return immediately, but it's more likely to wait its turn. When a whole flock of chickadees moves into the yard, it looks as if they form a living conveyer belt. One chickadee after another flies to the feeder and... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding, science

Chickadee Codes

Black-capped Chickadees sometimes add extra dees to their calls. Christopher Templeton has cracked the chickadee code. He found that a relatively small threat, maybe a slow-to-maneuver Great Horned Owl, warranted only two dee notes. But a greater threat, an agile Northern Pygmy-Owl, elicited an... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  science, vocalization

Mistaken Identity

This Band-tailed Pigeon may sound like an owl, but it's a case of mistaken identity. The song of the American Robin could be confused with that of the Black-headed Grosbeak. And then, there's the Black-capped Chickadee. At certain times of year, the male sings "Fee-bee, fee-bee," even though it's... read more »

RELATED

Right Birdhouse, Right Bird

Entice native birds -- including chickadees, nuthatches, and wrens (like this House Wren) -- to your garden with a birdhouse, or nestbox. Here’s the complicated part: you need to determine the size of the entrance hole. And that depends on the bird you want to attract. A smaller hole, around 1-1... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  nesting

The Natural Nestbox

A nestbox is a great asset for a garden. Natural materials are ideal. And no perches, please: they allow invaders to reach the eggs or the young. Place the nestbox well above the reach of predators. Birds - like this Black-capped Chickadee - don't want to draw attention to their nests, so the... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  nesting

The Perfect Nestbox

Many native cavity-nesters - including this Black-capped Chickadee - will nest in a manmade birdhouse, or nestbox. Look for a nestbox that's plain wood. If the birdhouse comes with a perch, remove it. It just makes it easier for a predator bird to land and go after the eggs or young. Here's the... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  nesting

Chickadee Line-up

You'll find the Black-capped Chickadee across the northern US into Canada. The Carolina Chickadee holds sway in the Southeast. Hear the husky voice of a Mountain Chickadee in the Rockies. Travel to Canada for the Boreal Chickadee. The Chestnut-backed Chickadee calls the Pacific Northwest home.... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  citizen science

Chickadees on a Cold Night - Interview with Susan Sharbaugh

The Black-capped Chickadees of Fairbanks, Alaska, endure nights as cold as 40 degrees below zero. Dr. Susan Sharbaugh, a scientist at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, has studied them. She says that each chickadee wedges itself into a tiny cavity. Then the... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  science

More Eyes and Ears

A family of dapper Black-capped Chickadees call as they hang upside down, pecking at alder seeds. A wren skulks and buzzes through the underbrush. A petite Downy Woodpecker whinnies nearby. Mixed-species flocks may include a dozen species and more than fifty individuals. More ears and eyes mean... read more »

RELATED

Corbin Klaft - A Friend to the Birds

Nine-year-old Corbin Klaft has hung a birdfeeder outside his bedroom window. "I just want to see the birds, how they hunt and perch, what they do with their feet. Most often the birds just come in and eat, and I try to identify them." Corbin has an idea for a birdhouse, too. "I'm going to make a... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding

Bird Sound Types and Qualities Part III

When it's just too hard to see the bird you hear, let your ears take over! Listen for the qualities of the sound as well as the pattern. A flute-like and upward-spiraling sound is characteristic of this Swainson's Thrush. Quite a contrast to the plaintively whistled notes of a Black-capped... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Voices and Vocabularies - Clever Chickadees

Few backyard birds are as beloved as the Black-capped Chickadee. The boldly patterned chickadee is perky, trusting – and it seems to introduce itself by calling its name – chick-a-dee. But when a chickadee voices its namesake call – using a host of variations – it’s most likely maintaining... read more »

RELATED

The Birds of Lake Wobegon

It’s late August, and BirdNote is imagining the bird life at Garrison Keillor’s mythical Lake Wobegon. The loons are now quiet. And the Purple Martins that nested outside the Chatterbox Café? They’re headed for South America. Even the Orchard Orioles - like the pair seen here (female L, male R) -... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  humor, language

Clean Nestboxes in October

It’s a beautiful moment when your backyard birds — like these Black-capped Chickadees — depart their nestboxes. By October, it’s time for one last duty as nestbox landlord: to clean it out. Cleaning will reduce the incidence of parasites in the box and make it more inviting to next spring’s... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  nesting

Learning to Band Birds - Puget Sound Bird Observatory

Picture yourself holding a tiny, Black-capped Chickadee like this one. Or a big, blue Steller’s Jay! Volunteer Mark Purcell did just that while learning to net and band birds with the Puget Sound Bird Observatory. “It’s thrilling to see a bird that close,” he says. “You have complete control over... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  citizen science, ecology, science

Triple-duty Garden - with Joanna Buehler

What can one person do when large-scale human development replaces nearby natural habitat? Seattle-area lakeside resident Joanna Buehler spoke out for clean water and the needs of wildlife. As she watched parking lots and buildings replace wetlands and woods, she created a rain garden where storm... read more »

RELATED

Old and New Memories of Black-capped Chickadees

Fernando Nottebohm of Rockefeller University studies the growth of neurons in the brains of birds. He’s an expert in the remarkable ability of Black-capped Chickadees to recall the locations of hundreds of stored seeds. Dr. Nottebohm suggests that as demand for memory space peaks, chickadees... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  science

Comparing Chickadee Calls

In the Pacific Northwest, you might see both Black-capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees at your birdfeeder. The Chestnut-back (seen here) sounds different from the Black-capped Chickadee. The call of the Black-capped follows the familiar “Chick-a-dee, dee, dee” pattern. But the call of the... read more »

RELATED

Which Chickadee - Black-capped or Carolina?

Of all the birds that turn up at birdfeeders, chickadees are favorites. And they’re instantly recognizable. Yet sometimes we have to ask ourselves: “Which chickadee is it?” In the eastern and central states, there are two species: Black-capped Chickadees pervade the northern half of the... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  birdwatching by ear, sound

Beak Meets Seed

Birds like finches, chickadees and this Northern Cardinal love sunflower seeds, but each species uses a different strategy to extract the meat. When a finch plucks a sunflower seed from the feeder, it uses its tongue to maneuver the seed lengthwise into a groove on its beak. As it closes its beak... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding, citizen science, science

Singer's Brain Changes with the Seasons

In higher animals, the brain is like a BMW — amazing engineering, but expensive to run. In a human, the brain uses about 10 times more energy than other organs. A bird's system is exquisitely attuned to this expense. Several species, including Black-capped Chickadees, have adapted in a... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  science, vocalization

Birds' Early Warning Systems

A frantic cacophony of loud, rapid birdcalls tells other birds there’s a predator on the prowl. It’s called “mobbing” as birds clamor and dart — back and forth — at the threat. An ongoing study of mobbing and other bird warning behavior suggests that some birds listen in on the warnings of other... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  ecology

Chickadees Clean Up After the Youngsters

Imagine this Black-capped Chickadee flying toward its nest, carrying fresh insects for its chicks. A moment later, it emerges with a tiny white pouch in its bill. The chickadee drops the object into the vegetation below. That outgoing payload is a fecal sac, a remarkable adaptation found in... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  nesting

Chickadee Brains Are Bigger in the Cold

As the colder months arrive, birds that remain in northern climates face the harsh realities of staying warm and finding food. Some birds approach the food problem by storing it in advance — a behavior called caching. Chickadees, nuthatches, jays, and some woodpeckers are known to cache large... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  ecology

Toddlers - Fledgling Chickadees

Sometimes in spring or summer, you might see a fledgling songbird: Like a toddler, it’s unsteady, awkward, and learning the ropes. And you might wonder if the young bird has left the nest too soon. (In the case of this Black-capped Chickadee, just 16 days after hatching) But a nest full of... read more »

RELATED

How Much Do Birds Eat?

There used to be a saying about somebody who doesn’t eat much — “she eats like a bird.” But how much does a bird typically eat? As a rule of thumb, the smaller the bird, the more food it needs relative to its weight. A Cooper’s Hawk, a medium-sized bird, eats around 12% of its weight per day. For... read more »

RELATED
Home
Shows
Galleries
More