Black-capped chickadee

The black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) is a small, nonmigratory, North American songbird that lives in deciduous and mixed forests. It is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is the state bird of Massachusetts in the United States, and the provincial bird of New Brunswick in Canada. It is well known for its capability to lower its body temperature during cold winter nights as well as its good spatial memory to relocate the caches where it stores food, and its boldness near humans (sometimes feeding from the hand).

Black-capped chickadee
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Paridae
Genus: Poecile
P. atricapillus
Binomial name
Poecile atricapillus
(Linnaeus, 1766)
Poecile atricapillus distribution map
Range of Poecile atricapillus

Parus atricapillus Linnaeus, 1766


In 1760 the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson included a description of the black-capped chickadee in his Ornithologie based on a specimen collected in Canada. He used the French name La mésange a tête noire de Canada and the Latin Parus Canadensis Atricapillus.[2] Although Brisson coined Latin names, these do not conform to the binomial system and are not recognised by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature.[3] When in 1766 the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus updated his Systema Naturae for the twelfth edition, he added 240 species that had been previously described by Brisson.[3] One of these was the black-capped chickadee. Linnaeus included a brief description, coined the binomial name Parus atricapillus and cited Brisson's work.[4] The type location was subsequently restricted to the site of Quebec in Canada.[5] The specific epithet atricapillus is Latin for "black-haired" from ater "black" and capillus "hair of the head".[6]

Though originally placed in the genus Parus with most other tits, mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data and morphology suggest that separating Poecile more adequately expresses these birds' relationships.[7] The genus Poecile was introduced by the German naturalist Johann Jakob Kaup in 1829.[8]

At one time the black-capped chickadee was considered by some to be conspecific with the willow tit of Eurasia, due to their very similar appearance. This is reflected in an older version of the Peterson Field Guide for the Birds of Britain and Europe, which states "N Am. Black-Capped Chickadee" as an alternate name for the willow tit. In fact the willow tit, black-capped chickadee, marsh tit and Carolina chickadee are all very similar to one another in appearance. There are nine recognised subspecies.[9]


Black-capped Chickadee Stratham NH, Aug 2013
Black-capped chickadee clinging to a wire.

The black-capped chickadee has a black cap and "bib" with white sides to the face. Its underparts are white with rusty brown on the flanks. Its back is gray and the tail is normally slate-gray. This bird has a short dark beak of 8–9.5 mm (0.31–0.37 in), short rounded wings 63.5–67.5 mm (2.50–2.66 in), a tarsus of 16–17 mm (0.63–0.67 in) and a long tail at 58–63 mm (2.3–2.5 in).[10] Total body length is 12–15 cm (4.7–5.9 in), wingspan is 16–21 cm (6.3–8.3 in) and body mass is 9–14 g (0.32–0.49 oz).[11] Sexes look alike, but males are slightly larger and longer than females.

Although range can generally be used to separate them, the black-capped chickadee is very similar in appearance to the Carolina chickadee. The black-capped is larger on average but this cannot be used reliably for identification. The most obvious difference between the two is in the wing feathers. In the black-capped chickadee, the wing feathers have white edges that are larger and more conspicuous than those of the Carolina chickadee. The latter is often mistaken for black-capped chickadees with feather dystrophy which sometimes affects the appearance of the primary feathers making them look slimmer, a phenomenon caused by illnesses such as fatty liver disease in malnourished birds. Overall, the Carolina appears slightly paler colored whereas the flanks of the black-capped can appear to have a trace of off-yellow or rusty coloration. Also, the black-capped generally has a more "ragged" looking black bib, whereas the bib of the Carolina has a more smooth-edged look. These subtle features are often even more vague in populations around where the black-capped and Carolina overlap in range (possibly the result of hybrids) and the two cannot always be distinguished as two species. The two species were formerly thought to be easily distinguished by call, but they often learn each other's vocalizations where their ranges overlap (their point of overlap is a narrow band that runs along the east-central United States, with the black-capped chickadee to the north). A bird located near the zone of overlap that sings both songs, or sings "odd-sounding" songs, cannot be positively identified solely by voice in the field.[12]


Chickadee - natures pics
Black-capped chickadee, Iona Beach Regional Park

The vocalizations of the black-capped chickadee are highly complex.[13] Thirteen distinct types of vocalizations have been classified, many of which are complex and can communicate different types of information. Chickadees' complex vocalizations are likely an evolutionary adaptation to their habitat: they live and feed in dense vegetation, and even when the flock is close together, individual birds tend to be out of each other's visual range.

One of the most recognizable sounds produced, particularly by the males, is the two-note fee-bee song. It is a simple, clear whistle of two notes, identical in rhythm, the first roughly a whole-step above the second.[14] The range of frequencies at which this song starts from varies; the complete frequency range spans roughly 1 kHz. Within this range male chickadees can sing at various tones. The average starting frequency is approximately 4000 Hz. A decrease of roughly 200 Hz occurs when the first note (fee) is sung, and then another decrease of approximately 400 Hz takes place between the end of fee and the beginning of bee. In spite of these multiple changes in frequency, though, anybody listening to the song only hears a pure high-frequency tone.[15] This is distinguished from the Carolina chickadee's four-note call fee-bee fee-bay; the lower notes are nearly identical but the higher fee notes are omitted, making the black-capped song like bee bay. The males sing the song only in relative isolation from other chickadees (including their mates). In late summer, some young birds will sing only a single note.[16]

A recent study found that female fee-bee songs have both similarities and differences with male fee-bee songs.[17][18] Both sexes sometimes make a faint version of the song, and this appears to be used when feeding young.[16] When males are out in the wild they sing this song to defend their territory or attract a mate.[17][18] It is rare, but there have been a few accounts of females singing a louder version of the fee-bee song when out alone in the wild, too. The black-capped chickadee is a monomorphic species so it can sometimes be difficult to tell a male and female apart based solely on their singing. A bioacoustic analysis performed on both male and female songs revealed that male fee-bee singing fluctuates more, and the absolute amplitude of both sexes is the same. The fee glissando varies far more in females, which makes identifying each sex easier. The exact purpose of the female fee-bee song is unknown.[18]

The most familiar call is the chick-a-dee-dee-dee which gave this bird its name. This simple-sounding call is astonishingly complex.[16] Scientists have been studying it since the mid-1970s. It is produced by both males and females year-round.[15] It has been observed to consist of up to four distinct units which can be arranged in different patterns to communicate information about threats from predators and coordination of group movement: A, B, C, and D.These four notes only ever appear in this consecutive order[19][16] with each preceding note blending into the next.[15] However, not all four notes may appear in the call.[19] Like other sounds the chickadee produces, it may be heard in multiple variations. The A and B notes are almost identical to one another in both frequency and duration. The black-capped chickadee possesses the ability to quickly notice the difference between these two notes. As for the C and D notes, there is no real similarity between them.[15] The C note fluctuates from low to high then back to low whereas the D note has a constant frequency. While not confirmed, one study found evidence of a function behind the C and D notes. To be able to recognize the difference between a member of the same species and a potential predator, the D note is required. The C note is needed to locate food.[19]

Neither individual notes nor groups of notes have an equal probability of appearing in the chick-a-dee-dee song. Its syntax form may take on several different structures, but the two most commonly heard are [A][D] and [B][C][D]. (The brackets are placed around each note to show that it may be repeated more than once.) Any calls that contain the D note more frequently than others are more commonly heard.[15] A recent study of the call showed that the number of dees indicates the level of threat from nearby predators. In an analysis of over 5,000 alarm calls from chickadees, it was found that alarm calls triggered by small, dangerous raptors had a shorter interval between chick and dee and tended to have extra dees, usually averaging four instead of two. In one case, a warning call about a pygmy owl – a prime threat to chickadees – contained 23 dees. The Carolina chickadee makes a similar call which is faster and higher-pitched.[16]

There are a number of other calls and sounds that these chickadees make, such as a gargle noise usually used by males to indicate a threat of attacking another male, often when feeding. This call is also used in sexual contexts.[17] Black-capped chickadees develop the gargle noise as a result of learning that starts soon after birth and continues through to adulthood.[15] This noise is among the most complex of the calls, containing 2 to 9 of 14 distinct notes in one population that was studied.[17] It only lasts for about half a second. Social learning, in particular, is largely influential to the development of this sound. Beginning 30 to 35 days post-birth, strings of low amplitude precursor or sub-gargles are produced for about a minute. At this time the young have several close interactions with their family—they learn to produce such sounds by listening to their parents and siblings. Three chickadee populations were observed at three different sites over eight years, and all of them produced vocalizations that were very similar to one another. Strings of juvenile sub-gargles are almost perfectly continuous and both low and unstable in frequency, yet lacking multiple syllables. When their vocal abilities are fully developed a stable frequency is produced and a variety of syllables are heard that vary in length.[15]

Recent studies have shown that chickadees in an environment with ambient noise at the same frequencies as their songs have developed an evolutionary adaptation which enables them to adjust the frequency of their songs much quicker in order to effectively communicate with the surrounding population. The fee-bee songs of several male black-capped chickadees were monitored to identify their particular frequency. In one particular study, a series of both masking and non-masking tones were played to multiple male chickadees at various locations to observe how they responded to interfering and non-interfering signals. When interacting with conspecifics close by, the males matched their frequencies, but when the surrounding environment was noisy with other species the males adapted by increasing the frequency of their song. The males responded quickly to the masking tones by raising their song frequencies. Another study, though, showed that male chickadees sometimes intentionally match the tones of competing conspecifics as a way of showing aggression. Dominant males in a population often compete with lower-ranked males—one is not at a greater or lesser advantage than the other. Singing contests are a way male chickadees decide who in a population gets to mate. When a male loses a contest, particularly a higher-ranking male in the population, there is a high chance they will have difficulty finding a mate.[17]

Behaviour and ecology

Diet and foraging

Black-capped Chickadee eating seed
Chickadees will take food such as seeds from feeders and trays over to a tree branch to hammer them open.

Insects (especially caterpillars) form a large part of their diet in summer. The birds hop along tree branches searching for food, sometimes hanging upside down or hovering; they may make short flights to catch insects in the air. Seeds and berries become more important in winter, though insect eggs and pupae remain on the menu. Black oil sunflower seeds are readily taken from bird feeders. The birds take a seed in their beak and commonly fly from the feeder to a tree, where they proceed to hammer the seed on a branch to open it.

Like many other species in the family Paridae, black-capped chickadees commonly cache food, mostly seeds but sometimes insects also.[20] Items are stored singly in various sites such as bark, dead leaves, clusters of conifer needles, or knothole. Memory for the location of caches can last up to 28 days.[21] Within the first 24 hours, the birds can even remember the relative quality of the stored items.[22]

Foraging behaviour in the winter months tends to decrease due to the changing climate. Such behaviour is largely influenced by weather factors such as wind and temperature. When wind speeds are higher, the black-capped chickadee will avoid exposure to such conditions by flying lower where vegetation offers a sense of protection, and when the temperature decreases the chickadees search for food less frequently.[23]

At bird feeders, black-capped chickadees tolerate human approach to a much greater degree than other species do. In fact, during the winter, many individuals accustomed to human habitation will readily accept seed from a person's hand.

Back Capped Chickadee
Chickadee at feeder


On cold winter nights, these birds can reduce their body temperature by as much as 10 to 12 °C (from their normal temperature of about 42 °C) to conserve energy.[24][25] Such a capacity for torpor is not very common in birds. Other bird species capable of torpor include the common swift Apus apus, the common poor-will Phalaenoptilus nuttallii, the lesser nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis, and various species of hummingbirds.


These birds are permanent residents, but sometimes they move south within their range, and even outside of it, in the fall or winter.

During the winter, chickadees often flock together. Many other species of birds – including titmice, nuthatches, and warblers – can often be found foraging in these flocks. Mixed flocks stay together because the chickadees call out whenever they find a good source of food. This calling-out forms cohesion for the group, allowing the other birds to find food more efficiently. When flocking, black-capped chickadees soon establish a rigid social hierarchy. In such hierarchies, males usually rank over females, and older birds over juveniles.[26]

Black-capped chickadees sleep in thick vegetation or in cavities, usually singly, though there have been suggestions that they may occasionally roost clumped together.[27] The sleeping posture is with the beak tucked under the scapular (shoulder) feathers.

Their flight is slightly undulating with rapid wing beats. Flight speed is about 20 km/h (12 mph).[28]


Chickadees molt once a year. There is no prenuptial molt in the spring. The postjuvenal molt at the end of the first summer of life is partial, involving only the body feathers and wing coverts. Thereafter, the postnuptial molts at the end of each reproductive season are always complete, involving all feathers.


The black-capped chickadee nests in a hole in a tree, 1–7 m (3.3–23.0 ft) above ground. The pair either excavate the hole together, or use a natural cavity, or sometimes an old woodpecker nest. This species will also nest in a nesting box. The nesting season is from late April through June. The nest is built by the female only. It consists of a base of coarse material such as moss or bark strips, and lining of finer material such as mammal hair. Eggs are white with fine dots of reddish brown concentrated at the larger end. On average, eggs are 1.52 cm × 1.22 cm (0.60 in × 0.48 in). Clutch size is 6–8 eggs. Incubation lasts 11–14 days and is by the female only, who is fed by the male. If there is an unusual disturbance at the nest entrance, the incubating female may utter an explosive hiss, like that of a snake, a probable adaptation to discourage nest predators.[29]

Hatchlings are altricial, naked with their eyes closed. Nestlings are fed by both sexes but are brooded by the female only (at which time the male brings food to her, which she passes on to the young). Young leave the nest 12–16 days post-hatching, in great part because the parents start presenting food only outside the nest hole. The young will still be fed by the parents for several weeks but are capable of catching food on their own within a week after leaving the nest.

Black-capped chickadees usually breed only once a year, but second broods are possible if the first one is lost. First breeding is at one year of age. Maximum recorded lifespan is twelve years, but most individuals live only half that long.[30]

Black-capped chickadees are socially monogamous, and males contribute greatly to reproduction. During the laying and incubation periods, males feed their partners extensively. When the nestlings hatch, males are the primary providers. However, as the nestlings grow, females become the main caretakers. Females prefer dominant males, and greater reproductive success is closely related to the higher ranking of the male.[31]

Black-capped chickadees may interbreed with Carolina chickadees or mountain chickadees where their ranges overlap. It appears to be more rare, but interbreeding with boreal chickadees has also been documented.[32]

Dominance hierarchy

During the winter, the species forms flocks through which dominance hierarchies can be easily observed. Dominance hierarchies play an important role in determining the social behaviors among the birds in these flocks. Positive correlates to higher social rankings include territory size, body condition, singing rate, and reproductive success.[33] The hierarchies are linear and stable; once a relationship is established between two birds, it stays the same for many years. In general, older and more experienced birds are dominant over younger individuals, and males are dominant over females.[31] Dominant and subordinate members differ in their foraging strategies and risk-taking behaviors. Dominant individuals control access to preferred resources and restrict subordinates to foraging in novel, riskier or suboptimal environments. Subordinate individuals are often observed foraging in the outermost tree parts that are more prone to predators, while dominant individuals forage low and close to the tree trunk. In experiments, subordinate individuals display less neophobia when approaching novel foods and objects, compared to their dominant counterparts. Subordinate individuals are also more likely to enter novel environments than their dominant counterparts. This is similar to subordinate primates who feed on novel food more readily than the dominant individuals because they are more used to eating suboptimal and unfamiliar food. There is no difference observed in ability to learn novel foraging tasks between dominant and subordinate individuals.[33]

State and provincial bird

The black-capped chickadee is the state bird of Massachusetts and the provincial bird of New Brunswick. In 2014, the black-capped chickadee was named the official bird of Vancouver for the year of 2015.


The IUCN classifies the black-capped chickadee as Least Concern due to its wide distribution and large populations.[1] In the states of Alaska and Washington, and in parts of western Canada, black-capped chickadees are among a number of bird species affected by an unknown agent that is causing beak deformities which may cause stress for affected species by inhibiting feeding ability, mating, and grooming. Black-capped chickadees were the first affected bird species, with reports of the deformity beginning in Alaska in the late 1990s, but more recently the deformity has been observed in close to 30 bird species in the affected areas.[34]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Parus atricapillus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
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  3. ^ a b Allen, J.A. (1910). "Collation of Brisson's genera of birds with those of Linnaeus". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 28: 317–335.
  4. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1766). Systema naturae : per regna tria natura, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin). Volume 1, Part 1 (12th ed.). Holmiae (Stockholm): Laurentii Salvii. p. 341.
  5. ^ Paynter, Raymond A. Jr, ed. (1986). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 12. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 82.
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  8. ^ Kaup, Johann Jakob (1829). Skizzirte Entwickelungs-Geschichte und natürliches System der europäischen Thierwelt (in German). Darmstadt: Carl Wilhelm Leske. p. 114.
  9. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2018). "Waxwings and allies, tits, penduline tits". World Bird List Version 8.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  10. ^ — Species — Birds of North America Online. Retrieved on 2013-03-23.
  11. ^ Black-capped Chickadee, Life History, All About Birds – Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved on 2013-03-23.
  12. ^ Tricky Bird IDs: Black-capped and Carolina chickadees. Retrieved on 2013-03-23.
  13. ^ Ficken, M. S.; Ficken, R. W.; Witkin, S. R. (1978). "Vocal repertoire of the Black-capped Chickadee" (PDF). Auk. 95 (1): 34–48. doi:10.2307/4085493.
  14. ^ Jackson, Dave (24 March 2010). "Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society". Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society. Archived from the original on 15 April 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Otter, Ken A (2007). Ecology and Behaviour of Chickadees and Titmice: An Integrated Approach. Oxford University Press. pp. 153–230. ISBN 978-0-19-856999-2.
  16. ^ a b c d e Templeton, C. N.; Greene, E.; Davis, K. (2005). "Allometry of alarm calls: black-capped chickadees encode information about predator size". Science. 308 (5730): 1934–7. doi:10.1126/science.1108841. PMID 15976305.
  17. ^ a b c d e Goodwin, Sarah E.; Podos, Jeffrey (9 January 2013). "Shift of song frequencies in response to masking tones". Animal Behaviour. 85: 435–440. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.12.003.
  18. ^ a b c Hahn, Allison H.; Krysler, Amanda; Sturdy, Christopher B. (11 May 2013). "Female song in black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus): Acoustic song features that contain individual identity information and sex differences". Behavioural Processes. 98: 98–105. doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2013.05.006.
  19. ^ a b c Dawson, Michael R. W.; Charrier, Isabelle; Sturdy, Christopher B. (May 2006). "Using an artificial neural network to classify black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) call note types". The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 119 (5): 3161–3172. doi:10.1121/1.2189028.
  20. ^ Heinrich, Bernd; Collins, Scott L. (June 1983). "Caterpillar Leaf Damage, and the Game of Hide-and-seek with Birds". Ecology. 64 (3). doi:10.2307/1939978. JSTOR 1939978.
  21. ^ Hitchcock, C. L.; Sherry, D. F. (1990). "Long-term memory for cache sites in the Black-capped Chickadee". Animal Behaviour. 40 (4): 701. doi:10.1016/S0003-3472(05)80699-2.
  22. ^ Sherry, D. F. (1984). "Food storage by the Black-capped Chickadee: memory for the location and contents of caches". Animal Behaviour. 32 (2): 451. doi:10.1016/S0003-3472(84)80281-X.
  23. ^ Otter, Ken A. (2007). Ecology and Behaviour of Chickadees and Titmice. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 268. ISBN 978-0-19-856999-2.
  24. ^ Chaplin, S. B. (1974). "Daily energetics of the Black-capped Chickadee, Parus atricapillus, in winter". Journal of Comparative Physiology. 89 (4): 321. doi:10.1007/BF00695350.
  25. ^ Chaplin, S. B. (1976). "The physiology of hypothermia in the Black-capped Chickadee Parus atricapillus". Journal of Comparative Physiology B. 112 (3): 335. doi:10.1007/BF00692303.
  26. ^ Thompson, Craig (Spring 1983). "The dominance hierarchy of the Black-capped Chickadee and its relation to breeding territory and frequency of visitation to an artificial food source". Field Station Bulletin. 16: 14–20 – via UWM Digital Commons.
  27. ^ Loery, G.; Nichols, J. D. (1985). "Dynamics of a Black-capped Chickadee population, 1958–1983". Ecology. 66: 1195–1203. doi:10.2307/1939172. JSTOR 1939172.
  28. ^ Greenewalt, C. H. (1955). "The flight of the Black-capped Chickadee and the White-breated Nuthatch". Auk. 72 (1): 1–5. doi:10.2307/4081384.
  29. ^ Forbush, E.H. (1925-29) Birds of Massachusetts and other New England states. Mass. Dept. of Agriculture, Boston.
  30. ^ Löf, R. A. (1967). "Ten years of banding black-capped chickadees". EBBA News. 30: 195–198.
  31. ^ a b Oort, Harry Van; Otter, Kenneth A.; Fort, Kevin T.; Mcdonell, Zoe (2007). "Habitat, Dominance, And The Phenotypic Quality Of Male Black-Capped Chickadees". The Condor. 109 (1): 88. doi:10.1650/0010-5422(2007)109[88:hdatpq];2.
  32. ^ Lait, Linda; Lauff, R. F.; Burg, T. M. (2012). "Genetic evidence supports Boreal Chickadee (Poecile hudsonicus) x Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) hybridization in Atlantic Canada". The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 126: 143.
  33. ^ a b An, Yong Seok; Kriengwatana, Buddhamas; Newman, Amy E.; Macdougall-Shackleton, Elizabeth A.; Macdougall-Shackleton, Scott A. (2011). "Social Rank, Neophobia and Observational Learning in Black-capped Chickadees". Behavior. 148 (1): 55–69. doi:10.1163/000579510x545829.
  34. ^ Beak Deformities. Alaska Science Center of the United States Geological Survey. (15 February 2013). Retrieved on 2013-03-23.

Further reading

  • Smith, S.M. (1991). The black-capped Chickadee: Behavioural Ecology and Natural History. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-2382-1 (1991 reprint).
  • Smith, S.M. (1993). Black-capped Chickadee. In The Birds of North America, no. 39. (A. Poole, P. Stettenheim and F. Gill, eds.) Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences.
  • Otter, K.A. (ed) (2007). "Ecology and behavior of chickadees and titmice: an integrated approach". Oxford University Press, Oxford. 310 pp

External links

Avian keratin disorder

Avian keratin disorder (AKD) is an emerging disease among wild birds in North America characterized by overgrowth and deformities of beaks. Cases were first observed among black-capped chickadees in Alaska in the late 1990s, and it has spread rapidly since then. The cause of AKD is unknown, but may be Poecivirus, a prospective new species of virus within the family Picornaviridae.

Black Cap

Black Cap may refer to:

Blackcap, a European songbird of the warbler family

Black cap, a cap worn by an English judge when passing the death sentence

The Black Cap, a London gay pub

Black Cap (Antarctica), a peak on Teall Island

Black Cap (mountain), a mountain in Conway, New Hampshire, United States

Black Cap Mountain, a mountain in Penobscot County, Maine, United States

Black Caps, the New Zealand national cricket team

Blackcap, East Sussex.

Carolina chickadee

The Carolina chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) is a small passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is often placed in the genus Parus with most other tits, but mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data and morphology suggest that separating Poecile more adequately expresses these birds' relationships (Gill et al., 2005). The American Ornithologists' Union has been treating Poecile as distinct genus since 1998.


The chickadees are a group of North American birds in the tit family included in the genus Poecile. Species found in North America are referred to as chickadees, while other species in the genus are called tits.

They are small-sized birds overall, usually having the crown of the head and throat patch distinctly darker than the body. They are at least 6 to 14 centimetres (2.4 to 5.5 in) in size.

Their name reputedly comes from the fact that their calls make a distinctive "chick-a-dee-dee-dee", though their normal call is actually fee-bee, and the famous chick-a-dee-dee-dee is an alarm call. The number of "dees" depends on the predator.The Chickadee (specifically the black-capped chickadee Poecile atricapillus formerly Parus atricapillus) is the official bird for the state of Massachusetts. Maine has named the chickadee as the official state bird, but never specified which particular kind of chickadee.

Chickadee (disambiguation)

Chickadee is a group of birds in the Paridae family

Black-capped chickadee

Boreal chickadee

Carolina chickadee

Chestnut-backed chickadee

Mexican chickadee

Mountain chickadeeChickadee may also refer to:

PlacesChickadee Lake, a lake in Idaho, United StatesArts, entertainment, and mediaChickadee (magazine), a Canadian children's magazine

My Little Chickadee, a US film, starring W.C. Fields and Mae WestShipsUSS Chickadee (AM-59), a minesweeper in the United States Navy

Fauna of Maine

The fauna of Maine include several diverse land and aquatic animal species, especially those common to the North Atlantic Ocean and deciduous forests of North America. Some of these creatures' habitats has been reduced or fully removed.

Gleaning (birds)

Gleaning is a feeding strategy by birds in which they catch invertebrate prey, mainly arthropods, by plucking them from foliage or the ground, from crevices such as rock faces and under the eaves of houses, or even, as in the case of ticks and lice, from living animals. This behavior is contrasted with hawking insects from the air or chasing after moving insects such as ants. Gleaning, in birds, does not refer to foraging for seeds or fruit.

Gleaning is a common feeding strategy for some groups of birds, including nuthatches, tits (including chickadees), wrens, woodcreepers, treecreepers, Old World flycatchers, Tyrant flycatchers, babblers, Old World warblers, New World warblers, Vireos and some hummingbirds and cuckoos. Many birds make use of multiple feeding strategies, depending on the availability of different sources of food and opportunities of the moment.

Irishtown Nature Park, New Brunswick

This article refers to a park in Canada. If you are looking for information about a park in Dublin, see Irishtown Nature Park, Dublin.

Irishtown Nature Park is a large urban park located on the northern edge of Moncton within the city of Moncton, New Brunswick (Tankville). At 9 km2 it is one of the largest urban parks in Canada.

List of Canadian provincial and territorial symbols

This is a list of the symbols of the provinces and territories of Canada. Each province and territory has a unique set of official symbols.

List of Maine state symbols

The U.S. state of Maine has several official symbols.

List of birds of Mont-Tremblant National Park

This lists the species of birds in Mont-Tremblant National Park in Quebec, Canada. The bolded species indicate that they are threatened in the area.

Mexican chickadee

The Mexican chickadee (Poecile sclateri) is a small songbird, a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is still often placed in the genus Parus with most other tits, but mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data and morphology suggest that separating Poecile more adequately expresses these birds' relationships (Gill et al., 2005). The American Ornithologists' Union had been treating Poecile as distinct genus for some time already.

Adults are 12.5–13.5 cm long with a wingspan of 18–21 cm and a weight of 7.5–11 g. Both sexes have a black cap, white cheeks, and a short black bill. Their backs and flanks are gray and they have paler grayish underparts. Similar in appearance to the black-capped chickadee and mountain chickadee, the Mexican chickadee can be distinguished by its longer black bib, which extends from its chin down onto its upper breast. A whitish band below the bib extends down the center of the belly.

It is a permanent resident of wooded highlands in western, central and northeastern Mexico, the range extends north into extreme southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Although primarily nonmigratory, Mexican chickadees sometimes fly to lower elevations during the cold of winter.

The Mexican chickadee's song is distinct from other chickadees; it is a complex burry trilled whistle of chischu-wur and a rich cheelee. They travel in pairs or small groups, and may join multi-species feeding flocks.

The nest is constructed by the female in a snag or tree cavity up to 18 m above the ground, and consists of grasses, moss, strips of bark, and is lined with animal fur. She lays between five and eight ovate white eggs, marked with fine reddish brown spots. Their breeding biology is not well known, but it is estimated that eggs are incubated for 11–14 days by the female, and the altricial young fledge in 18–21 days.

Northern hardwood forest

The northern hardwood forest is a general type of North American forest ecosystem found over much of southeastern and south central Canada, Ontario and Quebec, extending south into the United States in northern New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, and west along the Great Lakes to Minnesota and western Ontario. Some ecologists consider it a transitional forest because it contains species common to both the oak-hickory forest community to the south and the Boreal forest community to the north. The trees and shrub species of the Northern Hardwood Forest are known for their brilliant fall colors, making the regions that contain this forest type popular fall foliage tourist destinations.

Sugar maple, yellow birch, American beech, and White Ash are the common key indicator tree and shrub species in the Northern Hardwood Forest. Other species include eastern hemlock and eastern white pine. Herb and heath species include wintergreen, wild sarsaparilla, and wood sorrel. Birds and animals common to the Northern Hardwood Forest include the black-capped chickadee, white-throated sparrow, cedar waxwing, porcupine, snowshoe hare, white-tailed deer, and American Red Squirrel.

Most of the Northern Hardwood Forest is not virgin forest, it is regrowth following centuries of commercial timber harvesting and the clearing of land for agricultural purposes. This is particularly true of New England, New York, and Eastern Canada, where the land was cleared to make room for farms in the 17th and 18th centuries and subsequently abandoned in the 19th century when farming interests migrated to the midwestern United States and central Canada.

The Northern Hardwood Forest is indigenous to several well-known parks and national forests, including the Boundary Waters region of Minnesota, New York's Adirondack Park, the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont, Baxter State Park and Acadia National Park in Maine, and Fundy National Park in New Brunswick. The Berkshires region of western Massachusetts is very typical of a Northern Hardwood Forest ecosystem. Northern hardwood stands are also found in the higher elevations of the southern Blue Ridge Mountains, typically between 4,500 feet (1,400 m) and 5,500 feet (1,700 m), where climatic conditions resemble those in northern states and southern Canada.

Northern shrike

The northern shrike (Lanius borealis) is a large songbird species in the shrike family (Laniidae) native to North America and Siberia. Long considered a subspecies of the great grey shrike, it was classified as a distinct species in 2017. Six subspecies are recognised.

Pellet (ornithology)

A pellet, in ornithology, is the mass of undigested parts of a bird's food that some bird species occasionally regurgitate. The contents of a bird's pellet depend on its diet, but can include the exoskeletons of insects, indigestible plant matter, bones, fur, feathers, bills, claws, and teeth. In falconry, the pellet is called a casting.

The passing of pellets allows a bird to remove indigestible material from its proventriculus, or glandular stomach. In birds of prey, the regurgitation of pellets serves the bird's health in another way, by "scouring" parts of the digestive tract, including the gullet. Pellets are formed within six to ten hours of a meal in the bird's gizzard (muscular stomach).

Ornithologists may collect one species' pellets over time to analyze the seasonal variation in its eating habits. One advantage of collecting pellets is that it allows for the determination of diet without the killing and dissection of the bird. Pellets are found in different locations, depending on the species. In general, roosting and nesting sites are good places to look: for most hawks and owls, under coniferous trees; for barn owls, at the bases of cliffs or in barns and silos; for yet other species of owls, at their burrows or in marsh and field grasses.Hawk and owl pellets are grey or brown, and range in shape from spherical to oblong or plug-shaped. In large birds, they are one to two inches long, and in songbirds, about half an inch. Many other species produce pellets, including grebes, herons, cormorants, gulls, terns, kingfishers, crows, jays, dippers, shrikes, swallows, and most shorebirds.

Ornithologists examining pellets have discovered unusual items in them—even bird bands that were once attached to a smaller species that was consumed by the predator bird. In the United States, screech owl pellets have contained bands from a tufted titmouse, black-capped chickadee, and American goldfinch. In 1966, a golden eagle pellet in Oregon was found to contain a band placed on an American wigeon four months earlier, and 1,600 km (990 mi) away in southern California.The hair, bones and other body parts (such as limbs, skin fragments, and even faeces) of rodents found in owl pellets may carry viable rodent viruses and bacteria. It is therefore advisable to sterilize pellets in a microwave oven before study. This is particularly important when using pellets at school. Recently, Smith et al. described two pellet-borne outbreaks of Salmonella typhimurium in public schools. Rodents tend to avoid owl pellets, apparently due to their infective potential.


Poecile is a genus of birds in the tit family Paridae. It contains 15 species, which are scattered across North America, Europe and Asia; the North American species are the chickadees. In the past, most authorities retained Poecile as a subgenus within the genus Parus, but treatment as a distinct genus, initiated by the American Ornithologists Union, is now widely accepted. This is supported by mtDNA cytochrome b sequence analysis.The genus Poecile was erected by the German naturalist Johann Jakob Kaup in 1829. The type species was subsequently designated as the marsh tit. The name Poecile is from Ancient Greek poikilos "colourful". A related word poikilidos denoted an unidentified small bird. It has traditionally been treated as feminine (giving name endings such as cincta); however, this was not specified by the original genus author Johann Jakob Kaup, and under the ICZN the genus name must therefore be treated by default as masculine, giving name endings such as cinctus.

Portneuf Wildlife Management Area

Portneuf Wildlife Management Area at 3,104 acres (12.56 km2) is an Idaho Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Bannock County near the town of McCammon. The first land acquisition for the WMA occurred in 1970 from M.S. Bastian, a local farmer and rancher. Three additional parcels were acquired in 1974.GENERAL INFORMATION

The western slopes of the Portneuf Mountain Range have long provided winter habitat for mule deer. In 1970, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game used Pittman-Robertson funds to purchase over 2,800 acres of this winter range, creating Portneuf Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Later land acquisitions enlarged the WMA to over 3,100 acres. The maintenance and improvement of big game habitat is the primary objective at Portneuf WMA; upland game bird habitat enhancement is also a priority. Management activities conducted on Portneuf WMA benefit a variety of wildlife species found in the area.


Portneuf WMA is managed primarily as big game winter range. While only 75 mule deer inhabit the WMA throughout the year, that number swells to 500 during the winter months. A few moose and a small herd of elk also winter on the WMA. Shrub seedlings, such as bitterbrush and Hobble Creek sagebrush are planted on the WMA for big game forage. Managers maintain the grassland ranges for big game and upland game birds through weed control and periodically burning selected areas. Beaver were released in the area years ago and now inhabit some of the drainages on WMA lands. Their dam building activities expand riparian areas, benefitting a host of other wildlife. The ponds created by beaver dams hold water in the area longer and greatly improve habitat for native cutthroat trout populations.


While mule deer, elk and moose are the only large mammals inhabiting Portneuf WMA, a number of small mammals also call the area home. Beaver reside in some creek drainages, along with porcupine and mink. Coyotes, raccoons, yellow-bellied marmots, cottontail rabbits and the occasional bobcat and mountain lion also roam WMA lands. Golden eagles, Northern harriers, red-tailed hawks and great horned owls are commonly seen on Portneuf WMA. Swainson’s and rough-legged hawks are early spring visitors, passing through

on their migration flights north. Blue, ruffed and Columbia sharptailed grouse are commonly found on the WMA. Turkey, gray partridge and ring-necked pheasants are less common resident upland bird species. Yellow warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, MacGillivray’s warbler, vesper sparrow, song sparrow, savannah sparrow, American goldfinch, lazuli bunting, western kingbird, western wood pewee,, black-capped chickadee, sage thrasher, rufous-sided towhee, green-tailed towhee, American robin, ruby-crowned kinglet, western meadowlark, and pine siskin are some of the birds that inhabit Portneuf WMA’s riparian and upland habitat.


Portneuf WMA is located 16 miles southeast of Pocatello in eastern Idaho’s Bannock County. To reach Portneuf WMA, take Interstate 15 to exit 57 (Inkom). Turn south on U.S. Highway 91. Three secondary roads lead the visitor to the WMA from the highway. To access the northern portion of the WMA, remain on U.S. Highway 91 for 4 1/2 miles. Turn east on Lower Rock Creek Road and travel 2 miles. Turn south on Bonneville Road and travel 1 1/2 miles to the parking area at the WMAs north boundary. To access the central portion of the WMA, remain on U.S. Highway 91 for an additional 2 1/4 miles to the Crane Creek parking area located on the east side of the highway. Robber’s Roost Creek Road and parking area is one mile further south on the east side of U.S. Highway 91. The southern portion of the WMA is accessible from a road 3/4 mile south of Robber’s Roost Creek that turns east from U.S. Highway 91 along the WMAs south boundary.


Portneuf WMA lies west of Haystack Mountain on the western slope of the Portneuf Mountain Range. Despite its relatively small size, the WMA encompasses a number of different habitats. Riparian habitat along the Portneuf River and the WMA drainages is defined by willow, red osier dogwood, birch and cottonwood. Upland areas contain a mixture of shrubs and grasses including sagebrush, bitterbrush, serviceberry, elderberry, mountain mahogany, chokecherry, juniper, bluebunch wheatgrass, Idaho fescue and bottle-brush squirreltail. On the timbered slopes adjoining the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Douglas fir, juniper and aspen stands dominate.

Elevations range from 4,700 feet along the Portneuf River to 7,500 feet on the WMA’s timbered ridges. The west-facing slope of the WMA is traversed by four creeks and several smaller drainages. Annual precipitation ranges from ten to fourteen inches, half of which falls during the growing season. Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures reaching as high as 103o. Winters are cold and dry; severe storms can cause the mercury to plunge to -30F. While snow can accumulate to a depth of 36 inches on the high slopes of the WMA, lowland areas rarely receive such accumulations. The lack of snow in these areas allows forage to remain exposed or just below the snow surface. Available forage attracts deer and elk to the area during winter months.

Benchtop areas were dry-farmed in the past, but are now being reclaimed by mountain shrubs.


Robber's Roost Canyon is an important habitat feature of the WMA, providing an important riparian corridor and yellowstone cutthroat trout spawning areas, but it is probably better known as a historic bandit hideout. During the 1860s, a stagecoach route passed through Portneuf Canyon linking Salt Lake City, Utah and Virginia City, Montana. The stage often carried gold from Montana mines to Salt Lake City banks. The narrow canyon and thick brush provided the perfect setting for stage robberies and bandits flocked to the area to ambush gold-laden stages. The site’s popularity with men on the wrong side of the law eventually earned it the name “Robber’s Roost.”

A now legendary stage holdup occurred in 1865. The Pocatello Tribune provided this account of the heist: “a stage of the Concord type, carrying several passengers and $60,000 worth of gold was betrayed by its driver, Frank Williams, to a gang led by Jim Locket. As he rounded a steep hill, Williams turned his horses and the road agents, concealed in the brush which was so thick that it scratched the sides of the coach, gave the word of halt. Among the passengers were two wealthy businessmen from St. Louis. Apprehensive of being held up, they armed themselves for the journey. At the cry ‘hands up!’, the passengers opened fire bringing upon themselves a volley that killed both of them and two other men.” Legend has it that the outlaws buried their loot in the Robber’s Roost area. As years passed, one story then another told of a captured outlaw who confessed to his part in the holdup. The lure of stolen gold attracted many people to the area. When homesteaders settled the area, they spoke of watching strangers armed with shovels, tape measures and crude maps scour the hillsides of Robber’s Roost, but ultimately leaving empty handed. To this day, many people believe that the stolen gold remains hidden somewhere in Robber’s Roost. Visitors are welcome to explore Robber's Roost Canyon, but digging and resource damage are not permitted.

Symbols of New Brunswick

New Brunswick is one of Canada's provinces, and has established several provincial symbols.

Willow tit

The willow tit (Poecile montanus) is a passerine bird in the tit family, Paridae. It is a widespread and common resident breeder throughout temperate and subarctic Europe and northern Asia. It is more of a conifer specialist than the closely related marsh tit, which explains it breeding much further north. It is resident, and most birds do not migrate.

In the east of its range it is much paler than marsh tit, but as one goes west the various races become increasingly similar, so much so that it was not recognised as a breeding bird in Great Britain until the end of the 19th century, despite being widespread. The British population has declined by 94% since 1970 making it the most threatened resident bird in Britain. It now the focus of a Back from the Brink project which aims to reverse this decline.The willow tit is distinguished from the marsh tit by a sooty brown instead of a glossy blue black cap; the general colour is otherwise similar, though the under parts are more buff and the flanks distinctly more rufous; the pale buff edgings to the secondaries form a light patch on the closed wing. The feathers of the crown and the black bib under the bill are longer, but this is not an easily noticed character. However, the more graduated tail (not square) shows distinctly when spread. Length is 11.5 cm, and wings range from 60–70 mm.

The commonest call is a nasal zee, zee, zee, but the notes of the bird evidently vary considerably. Occasionally a double note, ipsee, ipsee, is repeated four or five times.

The willow tit often excavates its own nesting hole, even piercing hard bark; this is usually in a rotten stump or in a tree, more or less decayed. Most nests examined are cups of felted material, such as fur, hair and wood chips, but feathers are sometimes used. The number of eggs varies from six to nine, with reddish spots or blotches..

Birds feed on insects, caterpillars, and seeds, much like other tits. This species is parasitised by the moorhen flea, Dasypsyllus gallinulae.

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