Beauty of the Chickadee

Beauty of the Chickadee

This post celebrates the beauty of the Chickadee. It’s a bird. It looks like this.

beauty of the chickadee

As a kid, one of the first birds I could recognize was the chickadee. I didn’t know it as a chickadee, but this small, cute, and puffy bird became a familiar sight on walks through the woods in Massachusetts, even in the dead of winter. I remember attempting to light a fire with wet twigs and a book of matches on a snow-covered trail around the age of ten. A chickadee watched my struggle from a branch only a short distance above me. Persistent at obtaining success, I managed to get first smoke, and then adorable, living flames under challenging conditions. The chickadee seemed to vocalize approval.

beauty of the chickadee

I reside in Michigan now and winters here can be brutal. I have looked out from the warmth of a kitchen to a bird feeder in the yard while a storm raged at temperatures ten degrees below zero (that’s Fahrenheit degrees in spite of Celsius being a more logical approach temperature measure). Chickadees flitted to the feeders for a morning snack between wind gusts in the driving snow, their black and white color scheme prominent against brilliant white. Brave little creatures.

beauty of the chickadee

The Chickadee

Well, apparently it’s not “the chickadee” because the species I referenced above is the Black-Capped Chickadee. There are seven chickadee species in North America, Black-Capped Chickadees, Carolina Chickadees, and Mountain Chickadees being the most common. They are curious birds, having little fear of humans. The name, “chickadee” comes from sound of the call they make. They are generally non-migratory birds, so stay in an area and withstand difficult winters in much of their range. Chickadee populations are stable or increasing in almost all regions. These are the seven varieties:

  • Black-Capped—Range from upper United States, through much of Canada, and into parts of Alaska. (yes, I know Alaska is part of the United States)

beauty of the chickadee

  • Boreal—Coniferous wooded areas throughout Canada, Alaska, and some upper parts of the United States.
  • Carolina—Southern United States from Texas to the east coast, and yes, that includes North and South Carolina.
  • Grey-Headed—Northern Asia, subarctic Scandinavia, Alaska, and northern Canada.
  • Mexican—Wooded highlands of Mexico, and southern Arizona and New Mexico.
  • Mountain—Mountainous regions of western United States and Canada.
  • Chestnut-Backed—Extreme western United States and Canada in mixed coniferous forests.

Interesting Chickadee Facts

  • Black-Capped Chickadee the state bird of Massachusetts and Maine, and also provincial bird of New Brunswick in Canada.
  • Chickadees have complex vocalizations allowing them to communicate a variety of information. Since they frequent dense vegetation, birds are usually out of visual range and this likely is an evolutionary adaptation.

  • On cold winter nights, chickadees can lower their body temperature by about 18 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius to conserve energy. Not common in birds.
  • Heavy eaters. Chickadees can gain 10 percent of their body weight each day and loose it all again during cold winter nights.
  • They need 20 times more food in cold weather than they do in the summer.
  • Chickadees’ brain adds capacity to remember where they hide food for cold weather. When not needed, the added capacity is reduced.
  • Black-Capped Chickadees and Carolina Chickadees are similar in appearance, therefore difficult to tell apart. Their ranges overlap, and they sometimes mate with each other.
beauty of the chickadee
Carolina Chickadee

 

 

Beauty of the Chickadee in Art

 

beauty of the chickadee
Winter Pair by Larry Zack

 

beauty of the chickadee
Winter Chickadee by Christine Camp

 

beauty of the chickadee
by David G. Paul

 

beauty of the chickadee
Chickadee and Pussywillow by Dianne Munkittrick

 

Note:

I am a fiction writer, but research topics and provide posts like the one above for enlightenment and entertainment. If you liked it, please take a look at some of my other posts and my home page, R. A. Andrade. This post was prompted by the following passage in my upcoming novel, Three Remain:

Minutes later, they ambled down the driveway, absorbing the beauty of another cloudless, warm, Michigan summer day. Sunshine stopped for a moment to watch a small, puffy Chickadee sitting on a nearby branch. She stepped toward it, but seemingly unafraid, it stayed perched, chirping. Cocking her head, she extended her hand, lightly touching the bird’s feathers. It remained fixed to the branch. “Well, aren’t you sweet.”

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