Chickadee-dee-dee -Fall 2018

Feisty, fearless and fun to watch, chickadees have a big personality, and are willing to share it. The state bird of Massachusetts, it’s hard to find a place in the Bay State where these tiny birds are absent.

by: Virginia Andrews

At its northern extremity their range stretches from Alaska to Newfoundland, across the boreal forests of Canada. Along the southern edge it wiggles from Northern California to Northern New Mexico, tapers north to central Ohio, drifts down the Appalachians and then ends at the New Jersey coast.

The Carolina Chickadee, a closely-related species, occupies the territory south of that. In recent years the Carolina form has been advancing north at the rate of about 10 miles per year, and the two species interbreed where the ranges overlap.

They are reliable customers of every back-yard birdfeeder, usually the first to check out a new tube, platform, dish or whatever feeding device a homeowner provides. Black-oil sunflower seed, peanuts or suet are favorites.

They will even take food from the hand, particularly if accustomed to human presence. Whole books have been written about handfeeding wild birds, and it is easy to see why. To gain the trust of a wild creature is a real thrill, a testament to patience and consistency. Chickadees seem fearless in their curiosity. They are cautious, however, always keeping an eye out for danger and vanishing quickly and easily, adding extra “dees” as a warning. They are quite willing to scold the filler of “their” feeder, too.

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