Monday, February 21, 2011

Animal of the Week

The Black-capped Chickadee was one of the common birds at our bird feeder this weekend when we were counting for the Great Backyard Bird Count. They not only are one of my very favorite birds, but they are the state bird of my home state, Massachusetts.

One of the reasons I love chickadees so much is the richness of their behavior and sheer awesomeness of their physiology. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I heard the males start mating season. Yep, male chickadees started to sing the familiar "pee wee" song that melts the hearts of female chickadees everywhere.

Like most birds, only the male sings. Both males and females call and the "chick a dee dee dee" is their call. Once the have eggs the male and female will whisper the call to each other.

Chickadees often hang out in flocks with other birds like Tufted Titmouses and Downy Woodpeckers. Mixed flocks like this will descend on a food source like a bird feeder and eat you out of house and home about the same time every day. Chickadees prefer suet, peanut butter and sunflower seeds. They need very high energy foods to keep them warm in the winter.

We do have other kinds of chickadees in the US including Boreal and Carolina Chickadees. To see pictures click on their names.

What's your favorite bird from your Backyard Bird Count?

1 comment:

  1. Red-bellied woodpeckers were our favorite. I enjoy their rich color, but I think my favorite thing was the "argument" my 3.5 y.o. and my 5 y.o. had each time I pointed one out:

    me: "Look, the red-bellied woodpecker is back!"
    him: "you mean red-headed woodpecker"
    her: "No, it is called a red-bellied woodpecker"
    him: "No, it has a red HEAD"
    her: "But it is called a red-BELLIED woodpecker!"

    and so on...

    why do I like this? Because it was the first time my son really took an interest in the birds at the feeder and started trying to be quiet and still so he didn't scare them away :)