The Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) is a small, nonmigratory, North American songbird that lives in deciduous and mixed forests. It is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is the state bird of both Maine and Massachusetts in the United States, and the provincial bird of New Brunswick in Canada. It is well known for its capacity to lower its body temperature during cold winter nights as well as its good spatial memory to relocate the caches where it stores food, and its boldness near humans (sometimes feeding from the hand).
The Black-capped Chickadee has a black cap and “bib” with white sides to the face. Its underparts are white with rusty brown on the flanks. Its back is gray, and the tail is normally slate-gray. [Wikipedia]
Although range can generally be used to separate them, the black-capped chickadee is very similar in appearance to the Carolina Chickadee. The black-capped is larger on average, but this cannot be used reliably for identification. The most obvious difference between the two is in the wing feathers. In the black-capped chickadee, the wing feathers have white edges that are larger and more conspicuous than those of the Carolina chickadee. Overall, the Carolina appears slightly paler colored whereas the flanks of the black-capped can appear to have a trace of off-yellow or rusty coloration. Also, the black-capped generally has a more “ragged” looking black bib, whereas the bib of the Carolina has a more smooth-edged look. [Wikipedia]
A bird almost universally considered “cute” thanks to its oversized round head, tiny body, and curiosity about everything, including humans. The chickadee’s black cap and bib; white cheeks; gray back, wings, and tail; and whitish underside with buffy sides are distinctive. Its habit of investigating people and everything else in its home territory, and quickness to discover bird feeders, make it one of the first birds most people learn. [All About Birds]
Black-capped Chickadee Facts [All About Birds]
- The Black-Capped Chickadee hides seeds and other food items to eat later. Each item is placed in a different spot, and the chickadee can remember thousands of hiding places.
- Every autumn Black-capped Chickadees allow brain neurons containing old information to die, replacing them with new neurons so they can adapt to changes in their social flocks and environment even with their tiny brains.
- Most birds that associate with chickadee flocks respond to chickadee alarm calls, even when their own species doesn’t have a similar alarm call.
- The oldest known wild Black-capped Chickadee was a male and at least 11 years, 6 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Minnesota in 2011. It had been banded in the same state in 2002.