Feathered Facts: Black-Capped Chickadee

Few birds are as familiar—or as loved—as the black-capped chickadee. Tiny but energetic packages of feathered joy, chickadees grace woodlands, yards and gardens year-round.

Understated yet classy describes the chickadee’s feathered finery—black bib and cap framing bright white cheeks, and a steely-gray back blending into delicate buff-and-cream underparts. Chickadee acrobatics are fun to watch as the birds flit, cling, swing, hang and contort to glean insects, larvae and seeds.

Listen for buzzing chicka-dee-dee-dee calls as a feeding flock works through the trees and bushes. In late winter and spring, listen for the high-low fee-bee call the birds make as they establish nesting territories. Listen to its songs and calls at allaboutbirds.org.

Feed chickadees black-oil sunflower seed. Any type of seed feeder will do. Chickadees love suet and animal fat, too; place in a suet cage and hang from a tree limb or feeder pole arm.

Attract nesting chickadees with a small nest box with a 1-1/8-inch-diameter hole. The birds will furnish bark pieces, plant down, moss, fur and feathers to make a cushiony home inside for eggs and nestlings.

Did you know? To conserve precious energy, a chickadee’s heartbeat and metabolism slows almost to a standstill on cold winter nights.