BIRD OF THE WEEK  / WEEK 1: January 1st, 2018

© Liron Gertsman

Bird

Black-capped Chickadee

Species Name

Poecile atricapillus

Appearance

12-15 cm length | 16-21 cm wingspan | 9-14 gm weight

A very small, compact passerine with a large head, short neck, short, rounded wings, short bill and a moderately long tail.

They have a distinct black cap, white face and black chin. The back and tail are grey and the underside is white with a rufous tinge to the flanks. The eyes, bill and legs are dark. They are very similar in appearance to the Carolina Chickadee.

Habitat / Behaviour

Insectivore | Woodlands, parks, backyard feeders | Lives 6-12 years

The black-capped chickadee is common and widespread within its range. It prefers deciduous or mixed deciduous-coniferous woodlands but can also be found in shrubby areas, parks and suburban areas.

Highly active, vocal and social, the black-capped chickadee is known for its boldness around humans, with accustomed individuals readily eating seed from a person’s hand.

As an insectivorous generalist, a large part of their diet consists of caterpillars, insect eggs and pupae; however, they will also eat other invertebrates, seeds, berries and nuts, particularly in the winter. They glean from branches and foliage, frequently hanging upside down to feed. The black-capped chickadee will patiently hammer open seeds and nuts taking as long as 20 minutes at a time. They regularly cache their food.

They have an impressive spacial memory, able to easily relocate its dispersed caches of stored food up to 28 days later.

Breeding

Seasonally monogamous | cavity nest or nester | 6-8 red-spotted white eggs | 1-2 broods

Black-capped chickadees occasionally interbreed with Carolina chickadees and mountain chickadees and sometimes, although very rarely, with boreal chickadees.

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