Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-Capped Chickadee - Passeriformes Paridae Poecile atricapillus


Identification & Description:
• Small, short-billed bird.
• Black cap.
• Black bib.
• Black crown and throat
• White cheeks.
• Pale gray upperparts
• White edges to wing coverts
• Grayish-white underparts
• Rusty flanks
• Sexes similar
• Often found in small flocks
• Size: 12-15 cm (5-6 in)
• Wingspan: 16-21 cm (6-8 in)
• Weight: 9-14 g (0.32-0.49 ounces)

Similar species:
The Black-capped Chickadee is very similar to the Carolina Chickadee and where their ranges overlap they can be difficult to separate. In fact, they have trouble telling themselves apart and hybrids occur. The most obvious difference between them is their songs. Black-capped sings a two note song while Carolina sings a four note song. Hybrids sing a three note song. Outsided of the breeding season, when chickadees don't sing much, the Black-capped is slightly larger, has more white edging in the wing and has slower, lower-pitched calls. Boreal and Chestnut-backed Chickadees have more brown in their plumages than the Black-capped.

Life History Groupings
• Migration Status: Permanent resident
• Breeding Habitat: Woodland
• Nest Location: Mid-story/canopy nesting
• Nest Type: Cavity
• Clutch Size: 5-10
• Length of Incubation: 11-13 days
• Days to Fledge: 14-18
• Number of Broods: 1?
• Diet:
Mostly: Insects
Lesser Quantities of: Seeds & Fruit

• The Black-Capped Chickadee hides seeds and other food items for later recovery. Each item is placed in a different spot and a bird can remember thousands of hiding places.

• The chickadee's simple-sounding calls have been found to be extremely complex and language-like. They code information on identity and recognition of other flocks as well as predator alarms and contact calls.

• Breeding pairs and nonbreeders join up into flocks outside of the breeding season. Nonbreeders may be members of several flocks, with a different position in the dominance hierarchy of each flock.

Other Names
Mésange à tête noire (French)

The black-capped chickadee is a member of the family Paridae, in the order Passeriformes, and is classified as Parus atricapillus.

Black-Capped Chickadee, common name for a songbird found throughout much of the northern United States and Canada, named for its characteristic chick-a-dee-dee, chick-a-dee-dee call. The black-capped chickadee is popular due to its bold nature and its willingness to take food from the hand of a person. It is the state bird of Maine and Massachusetts.

The black-capped chickadee, which lives in forests, parks, and suburban settings with many trees, is only about 13 cm (about 5 in) from beak to tail. It is one of the few birds capable of remaining in the northern forests during the winter months. The black-capped chickadee fluffs its feathers to create warm air pockets enabling it to survive through the coldest winters.

The black-capped chickadee typically uses existing sites such as old woodpecker holes for nests. After lining the cavity with soft material like lichen, moss, and feathers, the female lays six to eight white eggs. She incubates, or warms, the eggs by sitting on them for about two weeks. Once the eggs hatch, both parents bring food to the young. The young leave the nest after two weeks.

The black-capped chickadee lives on a diet of insects and seeds obtained by gleaning, a type of feeding in which the bird carefully searches the vegetation of a tree for food. Sometimes chickadees form protective feeding groups with other bird species that enable them to watch for common enemies, such as the sharp-shinned hawk.

News & Events

Prev Next

National Forest Week in Surrey - Sep…

National Forest Week in Surrey September 21-27, 2014 Surrey has many forested areas to enjoy, so it's easy to get outside to celebrate this special week. Check out the events at: h... Read more

Upcoming meetings

Thursday, September 4, 7pm - Board of Directors meeting.    Thursday, November 6, 7pm - Annual General Meeting Read more

World Ocean Day - Jun 8, 2014

June 8 at Blackie SpitWe're looking for volunteers to help staff our booth Read more

Salmon workshop - May, 2014

Salmon workshop - May, 2014

Postponed until May, 2014 Evergreen, a national organization that aims to inspire action to green cities, is organizing an upcoming Salmon in the City Workshop about the importanc... Read more

Party for the Planet - April 26,…

April 26 at City Hall PlazaWe're looking for volunteers to help staff our booth   Read more

Discovery Days - Mar 26, 2014

March 26 at the Surrey Nature CentreMeet a nature guide who will get you started with your discoveries in the forest.  Create an eco-craft, explore with a scavenger hunt and and le... Read more

Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedar – submitted by Peter Maarsman One of the questions we get asked is, “What is the official tree of British Columbia?” Answer:  It is the Western Red Cedar and it ... Read more

Summer 2012 Story

Summer 2012 Story

What happens to blown-over trees?    by Peter Maarsman During the winter and spring, there have been a lot of strong winds which have blown over more trees. I get asked all the tim... Read more

Summer Handout 2012

Summer Handout 2012

Message from the GTHS Past-President, Peter Maarsman What a beautiful time to be in Green Timbers Forest. It is a time of rebirth and there is excitement all over the forest as tr... Read more

Volunteer Request Form

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY REQUEST FORM Our Mission Volunteer Resources leads the growth and development of the City of Surrey's volunteer movement by: • Continually ... Read more

GTHS eNewsletter


Follow Green Timbers


Green Timbers Heritage Society

© 2002-2014, Green Timbers Heritage Society. All Rights Reserved! 14225 Green Timbers Way, Surrey, BC V3T 0J2