Black-capped Chickadees

Black-capped Chickadee by Gary Luhm

Black-capped Chickadee by Gary Luhm

The flocks have many different calls with specific meanings, and the calls may actually contain some of the characteristics of the human language.

Identifying Them:

Black-capped Chickadees are small birds with a length of 5 inches and a wingspan of 8 inches. You can identify them by their “black caps” on their head and the black on their neck. You can also identify them by their song, which is a high-pitched, “chick-a-dee-dee-dee,”


Black-capped Chickadees are the most common chickadees seen. They are usually spotted in back yards and will appear at your bird-feeder. Chickadees are most commonly found in deciduous and mixed forest, but parks, open woods, cottonwood groves, wet lands and disturbed areas are also common places they can be found in.


Black-capped Chickadees hop along tree branches in search for food, sometimes hanging upside down or hovering; making short flights to catch their prey (insects) in the air. The courtship is a display of light calls, wing-shivering and the male actually feeding the female, and once the bond has formed between the pair, they establish their territory and defends it. In winter they form flocks which sometimes include other species of birds, but Black-capped Chickadees are typically numerically dominant. The flocks have many different calls with specific meanings, and the calls may actually contain some of the characteristics of the human language.

Nesting and Nestlings:

Black-capped chickadees are monogamous and form lifelong pair-bonds. The breeding season of Black-capped Chickadees begins in late March and proceeds through early July.
These chickadees nest in cavities and will sometimes nest in old woodpecker cavities or other natural holes and occasionally nest boxes. Black-capped Chickadees will also excavate or enlarge their own cavities in rotting wood. Both males and females excavate, but the female is the only one of the pair that builds the nest, which is usually just a foundation of moss, lined with soft hair.

Females lay about 6 to 8 eggs which are little white eggs with brown specks all over. She incubates their eggs for 12 to 13 days, during this time she is brought food to her by the male. After the nestlings hatch, the female broods the young almost continuously, but as the young grow, the female joins the male in providing food for them. At about 16 days after hatching, the young leave the nest, but stay on the breeding territory for about another 3-4 weeks before they head off.


Black-capped Chickadees eat mostly insects, spiders, berries and seeds like sunflower seeds which are found at feeders. But how do they eat sunflower seeds regularly when they have such small beaks? Well, they take a seed in their bill and fly from the feeder to a nearby tree, then, they put the seed on a branch hammer the seed to crack it open. During the winter, vegetable matter, seeds and fruit make up half of their diet, but goes down to 10-20% of their diet during warmer months like in the summer, where caterpillars become increasingly important to their diet and takes priority over seeds and fruit. Though seeds, insects and berries is mainly all they eat, Black-capped Chickadees have also been seen eating fat from dead animals or roadkill.





About faithelise

I love learning about species of birds and want to be an Ornathologist. Writing about birds is my passion and I love every part of it!
This entry was posted in Backyard Birds, Bird Watching, nonfiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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