Saturday, May 6, 2017

Black-Capped Chickadee Fun

Here are some fun facts from a birding on-line site.  Pretty smart little bird considering the size of their brain.

  • 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.
  • Chickadee calls are complex and language-like, communicating information on identity and recognition of other flocks as well as predator alarms and contact calls. The more dee notes in a chickadee-dee-deecall, the higher the threat level.
  • Winter flocks with chickadees serving as the nucleus contain mated chickadee pairs and nonbreeders, but generally not the offspring of the adult pairs within that flock. Other species that associate with chickadee flocks include nuthatches, woodpeckers, kinglets, creepers, warblers and vireos.
  • Most birds that associate with chickadee flocks respond to chickadee alarm calls, even when their own species doesn’t have a similar alarm call.
  • There is a dominance hierarchy within flocks. Some birds are “winter floaters” that don’t belong to a single flock—these individuals may have a different rank within each flock they spend time in.
  • Even when temperatures are far below zero, chickadees virtually always sleep in their own individual cavities. In rotten wood, they can excavate nesting and roosting holes entirely on their own.
  • Because small songbirds migrating through an unfamiliar area often associate with chickadee flocks, watching and listening for chickadee flocks during spring and fall can often alert birders to the presence of interesting migrants.
  • 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.
There's a little side information to this:  do not cut down all old trees unless they cause a safety issue.  There are many birds that need dead branches and logs for homes.  Culling out all but "perfect" trees will diminish your birding opportunities and inhibit their chances of survival as natural habitat is harder to find.  

I feed un-hulled sunflower seeds in the winter and always have Black-Capped Chickadees plus we have an old wooded area.  They are perky little songbirds just waiting to entertain you.     

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