The Black-Capped Chickadee has been chosen as Guelph’s official bird. Honorable mentions go to Chimney Swift and Green Heron.
A bold, inquisitive bird, the Black-Capped Chickadee can adapt to almost any environment and may even feed from friendly “human” hands. Small and short-billed with a black cap and throat, the chickadee communicates with its flock-mates using fifteen different calls. The best known is the chickadee-dee-dee that gives the bird its name.
The Black-Capped Chickadee is also the provincial bird of New Brunswick and state bird of Massachusetts and Maine.
Here are ten more interesting facts:
1. Chickadees usually mate for life.
2. These birds build nests in holes, mainly dead trees or rotten branches.
3. The females lay six to eight white eggs, marked with reddish-brown spots. Eggs are incubated for 12 to 13 days, until they hatch. Chicks grow quickly and fledge in 14 to 18 days.
4. Their wing beats are about 27 times per second. In comparison, a hummingbird’s wing beats are 80 beats per second.
5. The chickadee possesses excellent spatial memory. During the warmer months, it hides seeds and other foods in different spots. The bird can remember the hiding places a month after catching the food.
6. These birds observe and adapt the food-finding behavior of successful flock-mates. Unproductive activity is ignored.
7. On cold winter nights, the chickadees can reduce their body temperatures by as much as 12 degrees Celsius (from their normal temperature of 42 degrees Celsius) to conserve energy.
8. A frequent visitor to bird feeders, the chickadee is a ravenous eater, especially just before dusk. It can gain as much as ten percent of its body weight each day.
9. Research has shown that the survival rate of chickadees doubles when they have access to feeders during cold weather. In the winter, these birds require twenty times more food than they do in the summer.
10. Their favorite foods: sunflower seeds, suet, and coconut.