Chickadees: Cute and Cunning

Don’t you just love the gang of chickadees around your house? If you want to know the true definition of the word cute…just look at a chickadee. So small, so energetic and so cheery. And so cunning! Actually, these cute little chickadees can be rather sneaky while hiding extra seeds away for later use. By utilizing a bag of tricks to ditch its gang of fellow chickadees, it disappears just long enough to stash each seed away from the prying eyes of a potential pilferer. Which chickadee is the most cunning one at your feeder? 

Fun Facts About Chickadees

  • Chickadees usually mate for life.
  • Chickadees are found across much of North America. The more common species include the Black-capped, Carolina and Mountain Chickadees.
  • Chickadees are easily identified by their namesake call “chick-a-dee.”
  • They are a favorite feeder bird for many and really enjoy sunflower seeds.
  • They are inquisitive and found in wooded areas.
  • Carolina Chickadee and the Black-capped generally sings out a “fee-bee” call while the Carolina sings “fee-bee fee-bay;” however, this song is learned and, in overlapping territories, may be learned from the “wrong” bird.
  • Chickadee’s wing beats are about 27 times per second. This compares to a hummingbird’s 80 beats per second.
  • They are cavity nesters. They will excavate their own nest site in a rotten or decaying wood, use an old woodpecker hole or use a nesting box. (Mountain chickadee may not excavate its own hole and will nest under rock in a bank or in a hole in the ground.) They add a cozy nest on a moss base.
  • Usually lay 6–8 white eggs with a light reddish-brown speckling.
  • They hatch in about 12 days and fledge about 21 days later.
  • Research has shown that while Chickadees are regular visitors to feeders, over 75 to 80 percent of their winter food supply still comes from natural sources.
  • When the temperature falls below 10 degrees, research has shown that the survival rate of chickadees almost doubled when they had access to feeders, this resulted in an overall higher winter survival rate of 69% versus a 37% survival rate for populations without access to feeders.
  • Have you noticed how ravenously the birds eat at your bird feeders, especially first thing in the morning and just before dusk? Chickadees can gain as much as 10 percent of their body weight each day and lose it all again during a cold winter night.
  • Chickadees weigh less than one-half of an ounce.
  • The oldest banded Carolina Chickadee recaptured in the wild had lived 10 years and 11 months.