Poecile atricapillus M
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|Black-capped chickadees are the provincial bird of New Brunswick. For such a tiny bird, they are the most hardy of us all in the cold grips of wintertime. Extremely friendly too - they will often land on your shoulder, head or hand in anticipation of a seedy treat. |
The Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) is a small, North American songbird, a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is the state bird of both Maine and Massachusetts in the United States, and the provincial bird of New Brunswick in Canada. It is notable for its capacity to lower its body temperature during cold winter nights, its good spatial memory to relocate the caches where it stores food, and its boldness near humans (they can feed from the hand).
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 bill 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). 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). Sexes look alike, but males are slightly larger and longer than females.
The black-capped chickadee is found from coast to coast, from the northern half of the United States in the south, to James Bay, the southern edge of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, and the southern half of Alaska in the north. In winter it may wander outside this range, both to the north and south.
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 bill 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 Paridae family, Black-capped chickadees commonly cache food, mostly seeds but sometimes insects also. Items are stored singly in various sites such as bark, dead leaves, clusters of conifer needles, or knotholes. Memory for the location of caches can last up to 28 days. Within the first 24 hours, the birds can even remember the relative quality of the stored items.
At bird feeders, Black-capped Chickadees tolerate human approach to a much greater degree than do other species. In fact, during the winter, many individuals accustomed to human habitation will readily accept seed from a person's hand.
On cold winter nights, these birds reduce their body temperature by up to 10–12 °C (from their normal temperature of about 42 °C) to conserve energy. Such a capacity for torpor is rare in birds (or at least, rarely studied). 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.
The vocalizations of the Black-capped Chickadee are highly complex. 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.
The song of the Black-capped is a simple, clear whistle of two notes, identical in rhythm, the first roughly a whole-step above the second. 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.
Menu0:00.Some 'gargles', then a minute of singing.
NOTE: American Robin singing in background.
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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. Both sexes sometimes make a faint version of the song, and this appears to be used when feeding young.
The most familiar call is the chick-a-dee-dee-dee which gave this bird its name. This simple-sounding call is astonishingly complex. 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. Recent study of the call shows 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.
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.
Species: P. atricapillus
CeltickRanger, maaciejka, Miss_Piggy, anel has marked this note useful
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Very beautiful close-up shot of the
Black-capped Chickadee, fine POV and
tight framing, great focus, sharpness,
and details, great details of the snow,
beautiful catch-light that improve the
photo rendering it more beautiful
specially with this bird, TFS
- [2013-02-05 7:28]
Excellent close photo of this Black-capped Chickadee. Great sharpness, details, DOF, beautiful natural colours and a splendid environment.
nice photo of the bird. Amazing colours and composition. Perfect point of view.
Thanks for sharing,
- [2013-02-05 9:00]
Hi Derek,really a magnificent capture,what a details and what pastel colors,the soft pink salmon of the plumage is fantastic,very nice composition too in the snow,a very professional work..as usual!Have a nice evening and thanks,Luciano
very nice picture with good details and beautiful colours \
very nice composition
thanks greeting lou
Ciao Derek, great capture of lovely bird in the snow, fine details, splendid sharpness and wonderful natural colors, very well done, my friend, ciao Silvio
An absolute delightful image in many ways. The point of view, composition, framing and snow as backdrop is just to pleasant to look at and admiire. Your photographic skills is great and I enjoy your images. This is a beauty and I thank you kindly for sharing. Best regards.
- [2013-02-06 0:56]
very nice colors of the plumage seen on the snow. Nice details and feature. The shiny dark eye is lovely too.
Very nice natural composition for winter.
- [2013-02-07 4:20]
Such a tender picture. How well shown this fine little bird in the snow, looking probably for food. Excellent sharpness and a beautiful catch-light in the bird's eye.