About The Black-capped Chickadee

One of the most familiar birds in the US, the Black-capped Chickadee is known to be a saucy, active bird. It measures in at 12-15 cm (5-6 in), with a wingspan of 16-21 cm (6-8 in) and a weight of 9-14 grams. The Black-capped Chickadee is fairly tame and frequents backyards.

As can be gathered from its name, this bird has a black cap and a black bib as well. Its cheeks are white while its back is gray with no streaks. Though its wings are of a dark gray color, they may have some white on the edges. The Black-capped Chickadee has a rather long tail which is the same color as the wings (without the white edging). Male and female birds look alike. The juvenile birds also look like their parents.

The Black-capped Chickadee Nesting Preferences

The Black-capped Chickadee prefers to inhabit areas with woods such as parks, willow thickets, and cottonwood groves. This bird builds nests in holes or stumps of rotting trees. It also makes use of other existing nests. Nest boxes are not an unusual nesting place as well.

The nest of the Black-capped Chickadee is usually made of coarse materials. Moss is commonly used. For the lining, this bird makes use of down and fur. Nests can be found anywhere from 1 meter to 12 meters above the ground.

Building a Birdhouse For The Black-capped Chickadee

When building a birdhouse for the Black-capped Chickadee, it would be good to use Red Cedar. A floor area of about 4” x 4” would provide enough space. The height should be around 9” (inside). The entrance hole should be located 7” from the floor to the top of the hole and should be 1 ¼” in diameter. This birdhouse should then be mounted on a tree, post, or wall which provides partial shade. The placement height can be anywhere from 4 and 12 feet high.

The Black-capped Chickadee Mating Habits

Black-capped Chickadees court in the months of February and March. At this point, the flock is dispersed as the individual birds pair up. Male and female birds chase each other up in the air, suddenly coming to a stop. Once paired, it is the female bird that takes the lead. It is then up to the male bird to defend their territory. It is only by the end of March that the female starts looking for a nesting place.

The Black-capped Chickadee Feeding Preferences

For a small bird, the Black-capped Chickadee has a voracious appetite. It spends most of the day foraging for insects, larvae, and pupae. It also eats weevil, lice, sawflies, spiders, and all sorts of other “pests”. It is for this fact that the Black-capped Chickadee is known to be one of the most effective pest exterminators!

When looking for food, the Chickadee hops from branch to branch, peering closely into every nook and cranny for anything that it may use as food. During bountiful months, the Chickadee stores its food in countless places. It then retrieves its hoard at a later time.

Interesting Black-capped Chickadee Facts

  • The Black-capped Chickadee’s sound (chick-a-dee-dee) is one of the most complex vocalizations in all of the animal kingdom.
  • The Black-capped Chickadee has a great memory – it can remember where it hid its food up to 28 days after hiding it! More than that, it can remember thousands of hiding places at a time!
  • A Black-capped Chickadee flock has a rigid hierarchy.
  • The Black-capped Chickadee can adjust its temperature at night to conserve energy. Its night temperature can drop about 10-12 degrees Celsius from its daytime temperature!

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