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The Clown of the Forest: Black-capped Chickadee


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Was the Black-capped Chickadee overlooked when the Creator was handing out gifts to the birds? Scarlet Tanagers received color; the Hermit Thrush requested a beautiful voice; Turkey Vultures asked for size. But I think the chickadee was at the front of the line for choosing personalities. The charm it flew off with more than compensates for what it left behind.

While its bigger cousins flee the ice and snow, this roly-poly bundle of pluck has a winter-long party with its friends. No situation is too daunting for it. It was the first visitor to let its curiosity overcome its fear when I put a trail camera at the bird feeder. Instead of retreating when I venture into the woods, a nosy, noisy flock typically treats me to acrobatics and a concert. Granted, they don’t have the best voices and they dart back and forth too fast for me to snap a photo, but they always make me smile. And their spring song on a frosty morning stirs hope in my soul.

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And yes, I’m anthropomorphizing, but I could learn from what seems to be their attitude toward life. Friendship is important. Food is vital. Appearances aren’t. While Baltimore Orioles build elegant hanging nests and Bald Eagles construct McMansions in the treetops, the chickadee looks for an abandoned woodpecker hole or builds its own in rotting trees. It then lines the cavity with soft fibers and calls it good. Stylish? No. Functional? Yes. And it must be an adequate home because chickadees are one of the few bird species whose numbers are staying stable and even increasing in some areas. Knowing I can look forward to many winters brightened by this charmer is reassuring.

Information for this post came from:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black-capped_Chickadee/overview

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/b/black-capped-chickadee/

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/black-capped-chickadee

https://www.audubon.org/news/how-orioles-build-those-incredible-hanging-nests

Harrison, Hal. H. 1975. A field guide to birds’ nests. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

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