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10 Interesting Facts About Chickadees

Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Chickadee

Migration season is here in some parts of the country and an array of unique birds and warblers will be flying into your area. But that doesn’t mean you should forget about those birds that have been around all year. Yes, I’m taking about chickadees.

Chickadees are surprisingly interesting birds that many people take for granted. Here are 10 reasons why you shouldn’t.

1. There are seven chickadee species that breed in North America, all of which have the distinctive dark cap and bin with white cheeks. However, Black-capped Chickadees, Carolina Chickadees and Mountain Chickadees are the most common.

2. These small birds can live a relatively long life. The oldest banded Black-capped Chickadee in the wild lived 12 years and 5 month while the oldest banded Carolina Chickadee in the wild lived 10 years and 11 months.

3. The Black-capped Chickadee is the state bird of Maine and Massachusetts.

4. Chickadees are named after their distinctive call. Click here to listen to a Black-capped Chickadee’s call.

5. If you’ve ever listened to a chickadee’s call very closely, you’ll notice that sometimes there is only one dee at the end of the chick-a-dee and other times there are multiple ones at the end. According to Christopher Templeton at BirdNote, there is actually a code to the number of dees. One dee indicates that there is no threat, but five dees at the end of the call could indicate that there’s a Northern Pygmy Owl in the vicinity.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

6. Aside from their famous chick-a-dee call, they also let out a fee bee.

7. Most chickadees are non-migratory, so you’ll often see them at your feeder in winter. This is notable because they are said to need up to 10 times more food in the winter than in summer.

8. Black-capped Chickadees and Carolina Chickadees overlap in parts of the United States and are very difficult to tell apart. They are so similar that they often mate with each other where they overlap and create hybrids.

9. Chickadees are known as hoarders, but in a good kind of way. They hide seeds and other items to eat for later. According to Cornell’s All About Birds, they hide each food item in different spots and can remember thousands of hiding places. They don’t keep all their eggs in one basket, so to speak.

10. Chickadees let neurons containing old, useless information die and allow new ones to form so they can adapt to changes. That would be like us forgetting old phone numbers to make room for new email addresses.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.


  1. I am mystified by why the nest is on the ground! Think it probably was pushed (squirrel, cat???) and now all they can do is protect it. Keep the cat in.

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