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

Voices and Vocabularies - Clever Chickadees

A beloved backyard bird!

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 contact with its mate, scolding a predator, or announcing a food source. These chickadee calls, distinct from songs, are uttered by both sexes and may be voiced year-round.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®  

Voices and Vocabularies: Clever Chickadees

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote. [Black-capped Chickadee call “chick-a-dee,” repeated] 

Few backyard birds are as beloved as the Black-capped Chickadee. The boldly patterned chickadee is perky, trusting – and it even seems to introduce itself to us by calling out its name. [Black-capped Chickadee call “chick-a-dee”, repeated] 

In spring, Black-capped Chickadees also voice a sweet series of notes that sounds like “hey, sweetie” [Black-capped Chickadee “hey, sweetie” song]. And from a chickadee’s point of view, there’s a huge difference between [chick-a-dee] and [hey, sweetie]. 

The springtime [hey, sweetie] means something like, “Ladies, I’m a male chickadee looking for a mate. You other guys – get lost!"  Technically speaking, [hey, sweetie] is a song – a seasonal vocalization specifically tied to mating and territory.

When a chickadee voices its namesake [chick-a-dee], however, it is a sound categorized as a call. Calls, distinct from songs, are uttered by both sexes and may be voiced year round.

Chickadees call to one another as the pair moves about [chick-a-dee], as a way of remaining in contact. Black-capped Chickadees also voice a host of variations that may scold a predator, give an “all clear,” announce a food source, and more. So those perky, acrobatic chickadees . . . yes, okay, they’re cute. But they’re also clever. [chick-a-dee]

Hear them at birdnote.org. 

###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Chick-a-dee calls #106942 recorded by R.S. Little. Hey sweetie song #98802 recorded in Michigan by G.A. Keller.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and produced by John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org       March 2017  Narrator: Michael Stein

ID# sound-13-2013-03-06       sound-13 

Sights & Sounds

Home
Shows
Galleries
More