Black-capped Chickadee

Fun Facts About This Adorable Little Bird

Black-capped Chickadees are the state bird for Maine and Massachusetts, but they can be found all over the United States.

They get their name from their black cap, and their call.


Chickadees may be small, but mighty! They have 15 different calls. The one everyone knows best, is chickadee-dee-dee. Did you know, the more dees you hear, the more dangerous the threat?

So, let’s say you’re out filling your bird feeder. If the bird knows you, it will only it will only give one dee at the end, “Chickadee-dee!” But if a hawk swoops nearby, “Chicka-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee!” That means, “danger, danger!”, and many other birds will hear that call and duck for cover.

I once counted eight dees when I suddenly walked out my backdoor and startled them.

Take out dinner!

A group of chickadees is known as a banditry of chickadees. Bandit – get it? Maybe because of their black mask?

Females build the nest and lay up to 13 eggs! The male brings her food as she keeps the eggs warm. I’ve always wanted to photograph a chickadee family! Perhaps one day.

Chickadees are a common bird at bird feeders and they seem to come and go all day long. But don’t think they’re lazy. Oh no! They are very, very smart! Sometimes they take a seed, and eat it right there and then at the feeder.

See how it holds the seed in its feet?

Sometimes the seed is taken deep in a thicket or bush so they are hidden from predators while eating.

And sometimes a seed is chosen . . .

And hidden for later!

Can you see the seed in the V of the branch. It blends right in!

Chickadees hide hundreds of seeds! Not only that, they can remember where they all are, finding them a month later! I’ve seen this right outside my window over and over and over again.

Watch again . . .

First the chickadee carefully chooses a seed. Sometimes picking up two or three before settling on ‘the one’.

This one looks just right!

I’ve watched the chickadees put a seed in a crook of a branch or a hole . . .

they’ll push it, pick it up and drop it, and if it just doesn’t seem to “fit”, they grab it and go somewhere else. That’s what the chickadee above did. Here’s the final resting spot for this seed.

When its food source becomes low, that seed will be there.

In addition to the seeds from our feeders, chickadees also eat seeds from plants . . .

as well as berries, suet and peanut butter. Sometimes, I put a tablespoon of peanut butter in an orange peel and leave it out for them with some seed.

Chickadees are also great insect exterminators. They eat slugs, centipeeds, spiders, insect eggs, lice and many more!

I found this really cool video that explains eight of the chickadees calls. You can hear them and see them up close!

Go outside today, listen carefully. Can you hear them? Which calls did you hear? How many dees did you get from the chickadee?

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