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Meet: Black-Capped Chickadee

Almost everyone has seen these friendly little birds. Curious, noisy and 100% adorable these little balls of fluff can be found in anywhere with some tree and shrub cover. Chickadees in the Northern Midwest are Black-Capped Chickadees as opposed to the more southern-ranging Carolina Chickadees. The differences are very slight.

Chickadees are known for their alarm call, "Chick-a-dee-dee" which you will likely hear as soon as they spot you for the first time. Their regular call sounds more like, "cheee-de". Interestingly, these little birds have intricate alarm calls. The number of "dees" on the end of the well-known calls identifies the threat. Our local little group has clearly identified us as "Chick-a-dee-dee-dee" with three "dees" on the end. We're not sure if it is our presence in the back yard that they are nothing or that of the dogs.

Chickadees are very curious little birds, often able to be hand-fed after some familiarity with humans. They are members of the Tit family. In Europe, this includes the Blue Tit which infamously opened milk left by the milkman on doorsteps in Britain. The Blue Tits were after the high fat content in the cream of the milk bottles. Similarly, Chickadees are after high fat and high proteins snacks from birdfeeders. In the fall and early winter months, Chickadees don't eat all of the food they nab from the feder, they cache it. The amazing thing is, they remember where their caches are so they can go back later in the winter to eat the stored seeds.

Chickadees are small and a nice snack for wandering cats, and woodland hawks but they travel in groups and employ their alarm calls to help keep themselves safe. They live 2-4 years on average and usually only travel within a couple of square miles. If you have chickadees around you and you put out a black oil sunflower feeder, they will visit in a week or two.

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