Sunday, April 06, 2008

Black-capped Chickadees


Last night's migration brought more Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Golden-crowned Kinglets and Yellow-rumped Warblers into the stream corridor of Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Tree buds are starting to become noticeable as spring continues to awaken in southern Wisconsin. Often times before meeting my birding friends, I'll wait near the trail entrance and watch the sunrise through the trees. As the darkness dwindles, the woods begin to come alive with the song of birds. Among the first I hear are cheerful "fee-bee" songs of Black-capped Chickadees.


As I mentioned in an earlier post, I located a pair of chickadees diligently excavating a nesting cavity along the corridor trail. Nearly every time I walk by the spot with the sloped tree they've selected, one or both of them are engaged in the effort. Even so, it may not be the only cavity they're working on! Often times, one is busily excavating while the other seems less enthusiastic about the project, watching the hard work of its mate from a nearby branch.


I haven't observed them long enough to discern if the distribution of work has been equal. But I did notice that the chickadees would pause for a few seconds once they've released the bits of wood from their bills into the stream below – a perfect digiscoping opportunity! And that's what I did this morning.


I admire Black-capped Chickadees. From their endurance over the winter months to their energetic behavior - they really are magnificent and beautiful little songbirds. Also amazing are their extraordinary complex warning vocalizations:

"Researchers found that the chickadees responded differently to predators of different sizes. Small raptors such as pygmy owls, for example, elicited the most frenzied chickadee danger calls. The alarms were punctuated with several extra 'dees' at the end of the 'chick-a-dee' call."

Sure, the flashy migratory birds are awesome, but I’m compelled to pay tribute and give respect to the frisky little birds that stay with us all year as well!

All images © 2008 Mike McDowell

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