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10 Interesting Facts About Chickadees

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

Migration season is here in some parts of the country and an array of unique birds and warblers will be flying into your area. But that doesn’t mean you should forget about those birds that have been around all year. Yes, I’m taking about chickadees.

Chickadees are surprisingly interesting birds that many people take for granted. Here are 10 reasons why you shouldn’t.

1. There are seven chickadee species that breed in North America, all of which have the distinctive dark cap and bin with white cheeks. However, Black-capped Chickadees, Carolina Chickadees and Mountain Chickadees are the most common.

2. These small birds can live a relatively long life. The oldest banded Black-capped Chickadee in the wild lived 12 years and 5 month while the oldest banded Carolina Chickadee in the wild lived 10 years and 11 months.

3. The Black-capped Chickadee is the state bird of Maine and Massachusetts.

4. Chickadees are named after their distinctive call. Click here to listen to a Black-capped Chickadee’s call.

5. If you’ve ever listened to a chickadee’s call very closely, you’ll notice that sometimes there is only one dee at the end of the chick-a-dee and other times there are multiple ones at the end. According to Christopher Templeton at BirdNote, there is actually a code to the number of dees. One dee indicates that there is no threat, but five dees at the end of the call could indicate that there’s a Northern Pygmy Owl in the vicinity.

Chestnut-Backed_Chickadee_(Poecile_rufescens)

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

6. Aside from their famous chick-a-dee call, they also let out a fee bee.

7. Most chickadees are non-migratory, so you’ll often see them at your feeder in winter. This is notable because they are said to need up to 10 times more food in the winter than in summer.

8. Black-capped Chickadees and Carolina Chickadees overlap in parts of the United States and are very difficult to tell apart. They are so similar that they often mate with each other where they overlap and create hybrids.

9. Chickadees are known as hoarders, but in a good kind of way. They hide seeds and other items to eat for later. According to Cornell’s All About Birds, they hide each food item in different spots and can remember thousands of hiding places. They don’t keep all their eggs in one basket, so to speak.

10. Chickadees let neurons containing old, useless information die and allow new ones to form so they can adapt to changes. That would be like us forgetting old phone numbers to make room for new email addresses.

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32 Comments

  1. Beverly Rosa

    I have a question for you birders out there. I saw a small red bird with black wings the size of a goldfinch. I could not get a picture of it here, or find a picture of it online. It is not a scarlet tanager, though colors were similar. It was smaller than a tanager. I saw this bird last year also, but failed to get a picture. It may have been migrating, since I saw it only once each time. Can anyone help me?? Please post any answers on my fb page if you can or send to bee.rosa@facebook.com. Thank you. Bee Rosa

  2. I know about the multiple dees from when I check my chickadee’s box-LOL! But I am careful not to disturb it for long. Usually just a few seconds to count eggs and photograph if need be. This year’s family now has a record-breaking (for me) SEVEN eggs in their house!

  3. mary

    Do chickadees have more than one brood?? First time in wren house…kept wren nest..has added bird fluff(that l have in tree) so cute!! I thought wren would have fit…shunned our yard for week…thanks..nn

    • Timothy Martinez Jr.

      Chickadees typically only have one brood, but they are known to have two if they lose the first brood early.

  4. mary

    Had little warbler here for o few days in may…flitting in apple tree in the blossoms..was not yellow warbler…had black streaks on chest..black cap…was it cape may or prairie…thanks..

  5. mary

    Wow…then she is done..little chirping baby sounds from wren house..saw at least one fledgling…very cool!!! We are in minnesota..

  6. i love chicadees

  7. this is awsome

  8. I am a youtuber. I like chickadees and I am doing a chickadee project on them and I love them I am buliding a bird house. I am doing it with my friend.

    • Timothy Martinez Jr.

      Cool. I’d love to see the video when you’re done.

  9. Dawn

    How high do black-capped chickadees fly?

  10. Vicki O Woodruff

    I have a chickadee that want to come in it just keeps flying to the corner of window and banging on the edge of house ?

  11. Ashellia

    I am doing an animal report on the Black-Capped Chickadee and this helped me a lot.

  12. Darlene Rutnik

    I am so worried, usually I have loads of chick a dees
    here in Southern Vermont. This year so nothing. No birds.
    I am so worried.
    Darlene

  13. pam

    me, too. I’m in southern NH and don’t see very many this year.

  14. Maria Cantarero

    Well, this explains a lot. I’ve had a window feeder for years (the kind that suction to the glass), and I enjoy watching the chickadees (and one beautiful cardinal) visit every day. I’m so dedicated to keeping those feeders full that I’ve been know to fly outside in my pajamas rather that let any of the three trays get even close to empty. I love watching them come to casually munch and perch for a while, surveying the yard. But I injured my neck several weeks ago, and the levels of seed got low…I just couldn’t go out. The trays weren’t completely empty, but the pickings were slim.

    Two days ago, I cleaned the trays and replenished their supplies with mounds of black sunflower seed, safflower seed, and crushed peanuts. Today I noticed those chubby little balls of fluff are flying in, gathering as many seeds or peanuts that can fit in their tiny beaks, and flying off. I wondered if they were nesting early or feeding a mate, but after reading about their hoarding behavior, I think they may have just lost faith in me! I’m no longer their permanent stash—they’re creating back-ups! Aw well; I’ll gain it back. I do see my feeder as a promise I have to keep–sometimes I go out at midnight to make sure they don’t go hungry in the morning. These last weeks were an unfortunate exception to my own rule. But as I write this, there’s the cardinal! Birds are so awesome.

  15. This web is very helpful in lots of ways . I would reccomend this site to my teachers and friends if they needed to know any info of chikAdees

  16. Very helpful this really saved me and helped me out

  17. Lee

    I have 2 chickadees guarding 4 eggs in the ground in my back yard. I noticed it while I was cutting the grass yesterday…the grass was extremely long and weedy which is why they must’ve thought it was safe to lay there? When I got close to the nest with the mower one of the birds took a bravado stance with me and so I turned the mower off and left a small patch around where the nest is.
    They’re protective over the nest and I’ve been keeping a wide distance. I have a curious inside-outside cat that the birds also are protecting the nest from. I want the bird family to lay their eggs and grow the baby birds safely in my back yard but can’t keep my cat inside or not do yard work for an indef. amount of time. How long will this take? Should I be providing any cover for them since I cut the grass? I have no idea what to do. Suggestions welcome. Thanks in advance.

    • susan

      I am mystified by why the nest is on the ground! Think it probably was pushed (squirrel, cat???) and now all they can do is protect it. Keep the cat in.

  18. julia castle

    please add more facts . i am doing a speech on why birds matter . and chickadees is one of the birds .

  19. mark lahr

    I love chickadees & I always love birds! &I love this blog!

  20. I’m in an adult Sunday school class and we have two teams my team is the Chickadees!! I love these little birds so I’m pretty excited! The other group is flamingos.

  21. Sarah N. Fricks

    Question: once hatched, how long until fledgling?

  22. Tammy Joyce

    I have a little Chickadee that comes every night to my front porch post corner. It’s been 3 weeks since I put my Christmas lights up that I noticed. He leaves during the day comes back at nite. Not afraid of the traffic from my front door either. Just stares at you. Very strange. What is this mean?

  23. nobody cares dawg .

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