Chickadees Are Us!

If you see us around where you live — that means we were hatched in the area. We stick around like glue on a stamp. We don't bail out on you at the first flutter of a snow flake.

It might be 20 below Zero — we'll be there to entertain you.

And if your hearing ain't all that bad and you're not wearing ear muffs, we'll chirp you a few notes.

. . . same goes for us Titmouse type birds, also.


We Chickadees, Nut Hatches and Titmouse birds would sure appreciate one of these for our winter quarters.

Tryin' to stuff ourselves behind a piece of bark on a birch tree breaks our flight feathers and popping into a hole in a dead tree takes a toll on us.

After all, we don't weigh more than 12 paper clips. That's all!

If you do your part . . . We birds will do our best to keep you company this winter.



Chickadee lookin’ at you!


Communal Roosting

It has been reported that Chickadees can turn their highly social nature into a survival tactic. During the long winter nights, Chickadees reportedly group together in logs and cavities (such as nest boxes) in order to conserve heat. By grouping together in a confined space, Chickadees are able to use their escaping body heat to warm the air around them and save a great deal of metabolic energy. This type of prolonged contact increases the likelihood of transmitting parasites and diseases between birds but the benefit of sharing body heat must outweigh the potential health risks.





The greatest obstacle Chickadees face during the winter is staying warm. Like a little ball, small birds have a high surface area to volume ratio. As a result, they have a large surface area through which they can lose heat.

In order to maintain their body temperatures, Chickadees must take in a large number of food calories which will be metabolized for body heat. Calder (1974) notes that Black-capped Chickadees "... must eat continuously during short daylight hours to stoke their metabolic fires. If they do not, they will not reserve enough energy to see them through the long night."


The Preen Gland and Waterproofing

If you have live in any of the colder states for any amount of time, you probably know that one of the best ways to stay warm is to stay dry.

Have you ever wondered how birds can spend hours in the rain without getting soaked to the bone?

Chickadees (like most birds) have a special gland called the "preen gland" which is located on their backs near the base of the tail. When squeezed, this gland secretes a useful oil. The [preen] oil apparently has several functions: to help keep the feathers flexible and waterproof and to inhibit the growth of fungi and bacteria.

Birds use their beaks to squeeze oil from the preen gland and apply it to their feathers. A preening bird then uses its feet to spread the oil onto their head where the bird is unable to reach with its beak.