Birdhouses 101 - Chickadee



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Chickadees

Chickadee is the common name for the North American representative of a group of small active birds found throughout the temperate regions of North America, Europe and Asia. It is called the Titmouse outside of North America. Most Chickadees are from 4 to 6 inches long. They have stout bodies, relatively large heads and short, hairy bills. Most chickadees are either gray or brown but are often marked with black, white or chestnut.

Chickadees are active birds that constantly hop about in the outer branches of trees. They especially like clinging upside down to a twig or making short flights from tree to tree. These flights are usually done when feeding and is best described as a slow bobbing flight. Chickadees are able to perform remarkable acrobatics as they glean insects as well as their eggs and larvae from leaves, twigs, branches and bark.

This bird specie is able to use man-made birdhouses or nesting boxes aside from excavating a nest for themselves in well-rotted wood, using an old woodpecker hole or a natural cavity. The normal clutch produces about 6 to 8 eggs and hatches after 12 – 15 days of incubation. The young would leave the nest about 14 – 15 days later.

ChickadeeChickadees are active birds that constantly hop about in the outer branches of trees. They especially like clinging upside down to a twig or making short flights from tree to tree. These flights are usually done when feeding and is best described as a slow bobbing flight. Chickadees are able to perform remarkable acrobatics as they glean insects as well as their eggs and larvae from leaves, twigs, branches and bark.

This bird specie is able to use man-made birdhouses or nesting boxes aside from excavating a nest for themselves in well-rotted wood, using an old woodpecker hole or a natural cavity. The normal clutch produces about 6 to 8 eggs and hatches after 12 – 15 days of incubation. The young would leave the nest about 14 – 15 days later

Chickadees are year-round residents in the North unlike most songbirds that depart for the South each fall. This small bird can remarkably endure long, cold winters. This is because Chickadees have much denser plumage than other songbirds of their size which allows them to trap warm air close to their body to insulate them from the cold. They also have the special ability to put on fat quickly. Eating and putting on fat in the daylight and then burning it up to keep warm through the long night is how Chickadees go through each winter day. Chickadees also can control their body temperature at night to help them conserve this valuable fat.

There are several species of Chickadees in North America but the most common is the Black-capped Chickadee. It grows to a length of about 5 inches. Its body is olive-gray with a cap and bill that is black and white outer edges of the wing. The bill, legs and feet are predominantly black. Black-capped Chickadees are common feeding station birds. They particularly like sunflower seeds, peanut butter and suet. The distinguishing vocalization of a Black-capped Chickadee is one of the most complex vocalizations in the animal kingdom.

Black-capped ChickadeeAnother Chickadee specie which is predominantly found at the Southeast portion of the America is the Carolina Chickadee. It is considered one of the smaller species of North American Chickadee being at most 4.5 inches in length. It has a black cap and white cheeks with gray back and greater coverts. It wings and tails are darker gray with a flank that shows a slight buff color. Carolina Chickadees have white bellies and black bibs. It is very similar to the Black-capped Chickadee but it is possible to make the distinction when observations are made under optimal conditions in the fall and winter. These two species often produce hybrid young when they intermingle and mate.

The Chestnut-backed Chickadee is most common at the Pacific Coast. It is believed to be the smallest member of its family in America measuring about 4 – 5 inches long. It is a short-billed bird with brownish black cap, black bib, white cheeks and deep rufous-chestnut back. The Chestnut-backed Chickadee does not have a whistled song but makes up for the deficiency by the complexity of its “chick-a-dee” call. It uses lots of fur in making its nest.

Chickadees are important to humans. They serve a valuable function in the natural environment by preying on insects including those that are considered forest pests. They also bring immeasurable cheer to bird watchers. Chickadees are classified in the order Passeriformes, family Paridae.

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Casey and Dawn ...  3/26/2008)
Dawn: Aww, cute.Casey: I just did a report on the Mountain Chickadee... hmmm... :)


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