The chickadee is
a part of the Titmouse family. This small and perky bird is a familiar and
welcome visitor to our backyard feeders and gardens in winter. There are
five species in North America, the black capped chickadee which makes its
home to the north, the Chestnut backed chickadee found in the Pacific
Northwest, the Carolina chickadee which is found in the south east, the
mountain chickadee found in the west, and the Mexican chickadee found in
the mountains of southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and the
west and central mountainous areas of Mexico.
Chickadees are usually seen in pairs or small
groups. When nesting is over and the young are on the wing, chickadees
will form small flocks of 8 or a dozen birds which will roost and forage
together until spring. Finding food in the winter is often tough and
hunting in groups increases their chances for success. This group concept
also helps as a predator defense system. More eyes can look for and warn
the group of approaching danger.
Chickadees dine primarily on insects, seeds and
berries. These active and agile little birds can be seen hanging upside
down from twigs or at your feeder.
Attracting Chickadees to
The chickadee is
largely an insect eater. The constantly active chickadee will hop around
and cling to twigs, branches, and foliage gleaning huge quantities of
insect eggs and larvae. Chickadees also enjoy a variety of seeds and
Pine seeds are an
important natural vegetable food along with the seeds and nuts of hemlock,
birch, pine, walnut, ragweed and sunflower. Chickadees love
black oil sunflower
presented at your
bird feeder. They will typically take one seed from the feeder, fly away
and perch nearby to eat it. Chickadees will visit your feeder one at a
time, while other chickadees wait nearby for their turn. They also enjoy
gray striped sunflower seeds, peanut kernels, hulled sunflower seeds,
peanut butter mixes and
Chickadees enjoy the
berries of poison ivy, blueberry, bayberry, and serviceberry.
Chickadees are in constant motion and will
appreciate lots of high energy food. Offer plenty of
- Plant hemlock in
your backyard or plant a pine, birch, aspen or elm tree. Create dense
plantings of shrubs and young sapling thickets, backed by mature
deciduous and coniferous trees.
- Plant berry
producing bushes such as blueberry, elderberry and bayberries.
- The Chickadee will
be a frequent visitor to your feeders in the winter. Fill your tubular
perching feeders or hopper feeders with
black oil sunflower seed or peanut kernels.
- Chickadees are one
of the easiest birds to hand tame. Offer peanut or walnut kernels in
your outstretched palm and watch them up close!
- Place out a
and fill it with peanut
kernels and fresh or dried blueberries.
- Offer a suet
placed near the trunk of
- Smear peanut butter
onto tree trunks and branches.
- Offer a source of
drinking and bathing.
- Chickadees are
cavity nesting birds, sometimes nesting in abandoned woodpecker holes
and the natural cavities of trees. Most often they dig their own nesting
holes out of partially rotted tree trunks or stumps. Put out a couple of
chickadee specific bird
encourage them to nest in your backyard. ( See specific nest box dimensions for the
) Place small wood
chips inside to persuade them to use it. They won't use the wood chips
for nesting, but this lining will convince them that the nesting box is
fresh and acceptable. Mount the box on the trunk of a pine, birch, aspen