Nature’s Notebook

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Photo for species Poecile_atricapillus

In cold winter weather, black-capped chickadees may undergo regulated hypothermia, lowering their body temperature much below normal, to save lots of energy. They also store food and may roost communally in tree cavities, packing together to minimize heat loss. 
 

Photo Credit:
Geoffrey A. Hammerson

Poecile atricapillus

black-capped chickadee
What does this species look like?
What does this species look like?: 

Black-capped chickadees have a black cap and throat, white cheeks, buffy (light brownish-yellow) sides; their wing feathers have white edges. Length 13 cm (5.1 inches), wingspan 21 cm (8.3 inches).

Where is this species found?
States & Provinces: 
AB, AK, AZ, BC, CA, CO, CT, DC, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, MA, MB, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NB, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NL, NM, NS, NT, NV, NY, OH, ON, OR, PA, PE, QC, RI, SD, SK, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY, YT
Distribution

This species is resident from western and central Alaska eastward across central and southern Canada to Newfoundland, and south to northwestern California, southern Utah, central New Mexico, Kansas, central Missouri, central Indiana, and northern New Jersey; and at higher elevations in the southern Appalachians. Black-capped chicakees wander south irregularly in winter.

They are found in deciduous and mixed deciduous/coniferous forests, willow thickets, cottonwood groves, old fields, and wooded suburban areas. They build nests in tree cavities, especially dead trees or rotten branches. Sometimes they nest in existing natural cavities, old woodpecker holes, bird boxes, or similar sites.
 

General Phenology and Life History

Nesting phenology varies geographically. These are the usual egg-laying times: late April to mid-June in Illinois; early May to mid-July in Massachusetts; late May to early June in Nova Scotia; mid-April to late June in Oregon; and mid-April to early July in Michigan. Black-capped chickadees incubate eggs for 12 to 13 days. The young fledge (are fully grown) 12 to 16 days after hatching, but are fed by their parents for an additional three to four weeks, until the young leave.
  

Which phenophases should I observe?
Activity

Do you see...?

Active individuals
One or more individuals are seen moving about or at rest.

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More...

Feeding
One or more individuals are seen feeding or foraging. If possible, record the name of the species or substance being eaten or describe it in the comments field.

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Fruit/seed consumption
One or more individuals are seen eating the fleshy fruits, seeds, or cones of a plant. If possible, record the name of the plant or describe it in the comments field.

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Insect consumption
One or more individuals are seen eating insects. If possible, record the name of the insect or describe it in the comments field.

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Do you hear...?

Calls or song
One or more individuals are heard calling or singing.

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Singing individuals
One or more individuals are heard singing. Singing refers to stereotypical, simple or elaborate vocalizations (most commonly by males) used as part of territorial proclamation or defense, or mate attraction. It does not include relatively simple calls used for other forms of communication.

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Territorial individuals
One or more individuals are seen or heard defending a territory. This may be indicated by calls or song used as part of a territorial proclamation, chasing of an individual of the same species from a breeding area (but do not confuse this with courtship behavior, which in some species may involve chasing), or calls or displays directed at individuals of the same or a different species to defend a feeding area.

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Reproduction

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Courtship
A male and female are seen near one another and are engaged in courtship behavior. Do not include male displays in the absence of a female.

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Mating
A male and female are seen coupled in a mating position, usually with the male on top of the female.

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Nest building
One or more adults are seen constructing a nest or carrying nesting material.

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Occupied nest
One or more adults are seen sitting on a nest, entering or leaving a nest site under circumstances indicating its use for nesting (including nest defense behavior), or live eggs or nestlings are seen in a nest.

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Development

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Nestlings
One or more young are seen or heard in a nest.

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Fledged young
One or more young are seen recently departed from the nest. This includes young incapable of sustained flight and young which are still dependent on adults.

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Dead individuals
One or more dead individuals are seen, including those found on roads.

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Dead nestlings or young
One ore more dead nestlings or young are seen, including those found on roads.

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Method

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Individuals at a feeding station
One or more individuals are seen visiting a feeder, feeding station, or food placed by a person.

For abundance, enter the number of individual animals observed in this phenophase.