Black-capped Chickadee on snowy conifer

Black-capped Chickadee on snowy conifer


“And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20)

Millions of North Americans are familiar with the call of the Black-Capped chickadee: “Chicka-dee”. However, most bird-watchers know that the little chickadee communicates danger with its “chickadee-dee-dee” call. Bird-watchers also know that chickens use different warnings for dangers from the air or from the ground.

Scientists decided to see if chickadees used specialized calls for different dangers. In their first experiments they used a stuffed hawk to see what the chickadees in an outdoor aviary would do. However, they were only fooled once, and after that researchers had to use live hawks. After studying over 5,000 responses, a pattern emerged. Small, agile raptors like hawks are more dangerous to chickadees than, say, a large, horned owl, which the chickadees can easily evade. When confronted by a smaller raptor, the birds’ “chicka” call added up to four “dee”s in rapid succession, instead of two more leisurely “dee”s. Even more “dee”s might be added if the chickadees evaluated the danger as greater. Most frightening to the little birds was a pygmy owl that rated 23 “dee”s.

God cares for all His creatures and, knowing that predation would enter the creation with man’s sin, provided them with ways to warn each other. He also gave man His Word to warn us how to avoid sin and how to escape from it through Jesus Christ, should we become entrapped.

I thank You, Lord, for Your protection from all the dangers we face, especially the danger of our sin. Amen.

Science News, 6/25/05, pp. 403-404, S. Milius, “Dee for Danger.” See also:

Creation Moments ©2016 – Used with permission

Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli) ©WikiC

Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli) ©WikiC


More articles about these Avian Wonders:

Tiny Yet Tough: Chickadees Hunker Down for Winter

Black-capped Chickadees Fed by Hand

Sunday Inspiration – Tits, Chickadees and Penduline Tits

Birds Vol 1 #5 – The Black-capped Chickadee



Tiny Yet Tough: Chickadees Hunker Down for Winter

Tiny Yet Tough: Chickadees Hunker Down for Winter

 James J. S. Johnson, JD, ThD, MSGeog


Black-capped Chickadee on snowy branch (BGSmith/Shutterstock photo)

And He [i.e., the Lord] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  (2nd Corinthians 12:9)

The Black-capped Chickadee (Parus atricapillus, a/k/a Poecile atricapillus) is the official state bird of both Maine and Massachusetts, and it resides in both of those states (and several others) throughout the year.


Black-capped Chickadee (

 These relatively plump titmouse-like birds are small – only about 4½ inches long. And, as this YouTube video clip shows, this wee bird is decidedly quick and cute!

For a charming introduction to this boreal beauty, see Lee Dusing’s post titled “Black-capped Chickadees Fed by Hand” (featuring Lesley the Bird Nerd), posted at !

Decades ago, I saw Black-capped Chickadees, for the first time, in Falmouth (near Portland), Maine – at the Gilsland Farm Sanctuary (now called “Gilsland Farm Audubon Center”), on May 31st of AD1995, while attending the annual national meeting of the Society of Wetlands Scientists.


Gilsland Farm Audubon Center wetland habitat (photo: Real Family Camping)

The Black-capped Chickadee has a fairly large range, in most of the northern half of North America, as is shown on a Terry Sohl range map (which map is not shown below, because Mr. Sohl, as a self-described “hardcore atheist”, does not want his maps associated with a Christian blogsite).

The Black-capped Chickadee has some American “cousins”, including(but not limited to) the Chestnut-capped Chickadee (Parus rufescens) of the American West, the Mountain Chickadee (Parus gambeli) of the American West (and Canada’s southwest), the Carolina Chickadee (Parus carolinensis) of the USA’s Southeast, and the Boreal Chickadee (Parus hudsonicus) of Canada, Alaska, and New England.

[Regarding chickadee ranges, see Herbert S. Zim & Ira N. Gabrielson, “Black-capped Chickadee”, in A GUIDE TO FAMILIAR AMERICAN BIRDS (Golden Press, 1987; updated revision by Chandler S. Robbins), page 78; Roger Tory Peterson & Virginia Marie Peterson, EASTERN BIRDS: A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF EASTERN AND CENTRAL NORTH AMERICA (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980), pages 210-211 & M246-M248; Roger Tory Peterson & Virginia Marie Peterson, WESTERN BIRDS: A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF WESTERN NORTH AMERICA (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990), pages 258-259 & M279-M280.]

That year I was in the Portland area, primarily to present an ecology/conservation science research paper, regarding how U.S. government agencies (especially the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) define and scientifically identify “wetland” properties, for federal regulatory jurisdiction purposes. [See James J. S. Johnson, “Delineating Wetlands: Hydrophilic Plants, Hydric Soils, and Wetland Hydrology”, in Proceedings of the Wetlands Scientists 16th Annual Meeting (Boston, Massachusetts, spring/summer 1995).]


Black-capped Chickadee perching (Alain Wolf / Wikipedia)

 For a birder, visiting the Gilsland Farm Sanctuary was an interactive treasure trove. The avian habitat sanctuary hosts various stands of white ash, red maple, spruce, quaking aspen, and white birch, as well as mature oaks and hemlocks. That day, in a variety to meadow-and-forest-edge habitat contexts (e.g., marshy meadows, apple orchard, wet woods and mixed forest edges, shrubland, pond water and shoreline, tidal mudflats of the Presumpscot River estuary), I viewed bobolinks, meadowlarks, herons, egrets, hawks, nuthatches, finches, etc.

For me, however, the 2 “lifers” were the marsh-loving icterid Bobolink and the tiny-yet-tough Black-capped Chickadee. The weather was warm enough, so thoughts of winter weather did not occur. However, many of the birds that my wife and I saw, that sunny day, would fly south, a few months later, to migrate away from the severe cold that Maine experiences when winter months arrive.


Black-capped Chickadee, toughing out winter weather

But not the Black-capped Chickadee! — it is tiny, yet it is tough — residing year-round in Maine, soldiering through the windchill and snowfall, annually illustrating how God has designed some passerine birds to display cold-climate-enduring resilience. Sometimes this wonderful design, and its operations in the real world, is noticed by ecology-analyzing naturalists – even if such naturalists (such as ecologist Kathie Fiveash, who is quoted hereinbelow) fail to accredit God with the providential design and construction of the winged wonders that they observe.

In the fall black-capped chickadees come together in small territorial flocks that will feed together all winter. If you walk in the woods or along the roads [in Maine, such as on Isle au Haut, in Acadia National Park – from where this quoted author writes], you are likely to find a flock feeding actively in the trees, calling to each other as they move about in search of food. These tiny, energetic creatures are preparing to face the frigid temperatures, daunting storms, and long nights of he Maine winter. The summer songbirds have left the coast of Maine, choosing the dangers [and potential blessings] of a migratory journey over the dangers of prolonged cold and darkness. The small songbirds that remain—juncos, kinglets, nuthatches and chickadees chief among them—must manage to stay warm and find sufficient food to survive an entire [winter] season in conditions that could extinguish a human life [if unprotected] in one night.

The black-capped chickadee, Maine’s state bird, is a common and cheerful presence [in Maine] all year. It lives throughout northern North America. With its black cap and bib, white cheeks, gray back, buffy sides, round head, and signature chickadee-dee-dee call, this little bird is unmistakable. Despite their small size [and relatively high metabolism], chickadees are long-lived; the oldest known wild chickadee was over twelve years old[!]. Chickadees are curious and sociable—you can, with a little patience, get a chickadee to land on your hand if you stand quietly with a palm full of sunflower seeds. But since a chickadee weighs less than half an ounce—about the same as four pennies—you will feel mainly the scratch of tiny claws.

Chickadees mate for life. Unmated birds find partners in the feeding flocks that form in autumn. In late winter, males begin to sing their sweet two-note song, and the winter flocks break up.

Chickadee pairs claim territories and, as spring arrives, excavate cavity nests [often made with moss, leaves, and grasses] in rotten snags [i.e., rotten yet standing timber, either dead or half-dead wood, such as tree stumps], often in birch [because its bark remains intact while the inner wood rots into softness]. The female lays about eight eggs and incubates them for two weeks while the male brings her food. When the naked chicks hatch, the mother broods them until they grow downy feathers. Then both parents feed the quickly maturing [i.e., growth-spurt-exhibiting] babies. The young leave the nest at about sixteen days but stay on the breeding territory for another month before heading off on their own. In the fall, chickadees gather again in small flocks that will stay together during the winter.

[Quoting Kathie Fiveash, “Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus)”, in ISLAND NATURALIST (Stonington, ME: Penobscot Books, 2015), pages 171-172.] These habits (of chickadee family formation, nest-building, care of eggs and hatchlings, etc.) have been observed by other ornithologists, e.g., Donald Stokes, who similarly reports these behaviors in his chapter “Black-capped Chickadee”, within A GUIDE TO BIRD BEHAVIOR, VOLUME I (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1979), pages 161-173, — as well as Stan Tekiela, who likewise summarizes chickadee behaviors in his BIRDS OF MAINE FIELD GUIDE (Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications, 2002), pages 188-189].


Black-capped Chickadee, eating seeds from hand

Of course, chickadees must eat – and they eat a lot! – because their energetic activities continuously demand food-fuel, to power their fast-paced lifestyles. Consequently, chickadees cannot afford to be too “picky” about what they eat; so, if it’s edible and nutritious, it’s like to be eaten by chickadees!

Chickadees eat insects [including insect eggs], spiders, berries, and seeds [of trees, weeds, or other plant-life]. The feed by gleaning the foliage and bark of trees, often hanging acrobatically upside down on twigs [and small branches]. They come readily to [artificial] feeders, and prefer nutritious black-oil sunflower seeds. As chickadees feed, they call to each other constantly. If you listen carefully you can hear many different vocalizations other than the familiar chickadee-dee-dee [call].

All fall, chickadees stash food in various places—bark, dead leaves, knotholes [in trees], etc. A chickadee can remember hundreds of different locations and retrieve stored food as needed.

Every year, in order to clear their brains for the new information they will need to remember, chickadees actually refresh their brains [according to research findings, apparently] by allowing neurons that held old knowledge to die, replacing them with new neurons. [This allows for some bird seeds to be “forgotten”, so those seeds can germinate, unretrieved, to produce a new generation of whatever kind of plant-life those seeds program for!] Chickadees feed constantly through the short winter days. A feeding flock of chickadees is often joined by other species like kinglets and nuthatches, which depend on the chickadees for food location and warnings of [predatory] danger.

[Quoting Kathie Fiveash, “Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus)”, in ISLAND NATURALIST (Stonington, ME: Penobscot Books, 2015), page 172.]


Black-capped Chickadee approaching birdseed (photo credit:

But how do these miniscule marvels stay warm enough to tolerate the winter weather of Maine? God has equipped them for cold climate conditions!

Staying warm in winter is a huge challenge for a tiny creature like a chickadee. The smaller the animal, the greater the ratio of [heat-losing] body surface area to [heat-retaining] body mass, and the more heat is lost.

Chickadees are adapted [JJSJ note: as an evolutionists, she says “adapted” – but I would say “purposefully designed and bio-engineered”] to conserve heat and find enough food to fuel their tiny bodies.

Except on the coldest nights, chickadees roost alone, tucking themselves into small cavities or dense foliage with their heads under their wings. They puff up their feathers to maximize the insulation of their tiny down coats. They constrict the blood vessels directly under their skins to reduce heat loss. On the coldest nights, chickadees may roost communally, taking advantage of the warmth of other bodies. Amazingly [i.e., providentially], a chickadee can lower its body temperature by as much as fourteen degrees [Fahrenheit] from its normal temperature of 110 degrees [Fahrenheit], decreasing metabolic rate to conserve energy. This temporary lowering of body temperature, called torpor [which hummingbirds are also noted for], is rare among birds.

[Quoting Kathie Fiveash, “Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus)”, in ISLAND NATURALIST (Stonington, ME: Penobscot Books, 2015), pages 172-173.]

So, how do Black-capped Chickadees “tough it out”, during the cold climate conditions of boreal winters, in the northern parts of America (and up into Canada)?

Quite simply they utilize what God has providentially bio-engineered into their physical traits and programmed behavior skills – which serves as a preparation-for-winter “package” that is “grace sufficient” for the challenges of life. By God’s providential grace, therefore, the Black-capped Chickadee is tiny yet tough – tough enough to make it through winter weather, so there is no need to fly south for the winter.


Black-capped Chickadee and berries (

Thankfully, the Creator-God Who made these wee chickadees, with programming and provisions to succeed, generation after generation, also provides us with what we need to succeed, so long as we define our “success” in Biblical terms.

And He [i.e., the Lord] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  (2nd Corinthians 12:9)

Sunday Inspiration – Tits, Chickadees and Penduline Tits

Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) by Margaret Sloan

Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) by Margaret Sloan

The little birds have places for themselves, where they may put their young, even your altars, O Lord of armies, my King and my God. (Psalms 84:3 BBE)

This week we come to two families of avian wonders that are next to one another in taxonomic order. The families are the Paridae – Tits, Chickadees with 61 species and the Remizidae – Penduline Tits with 11 more cuties.

The tits, chickadees, and titmice constitute the Paridae, a large family of small passerine birds which occur in the Northern Hemisphere and Africa. Most were formerly classified in the genus Parus.

These birds are called either “chickadees” (derived from their distinctive “chick-a dee dee dee” alarm call) or “titmice” in North America, and just “tits” in the rest of the English-speaking world. The name titmouse is recorded from the 14th century, composed of the Old English name for the bird, mase (Proto-Germanic *maison, German Meise), and tit, denoting something small. The spelling (formerly titmose) was influenced by mouse in the 16th century. Emigrants to New Zealand presumably identified some of the superficially similar birds of the genus Petroica of the family Petroicidae, the Australian robins, as members of the tit family, giving them the title tomtit, although, in fact, they are not related.

These birds are mainly small, stocky, woodland species with short, stout bills. Some have crests.  They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects. Many species live around human habitation and come readily to bird feeders for nuts or seed, and learn to take other foods.

Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) Building Nest ©Earle Robinson

Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) Building Nest ©Earle Robinson

The Penduline Tits constitute a family of small passerine birds, related to the true tits. All but the Verdin and Fire-capped Tit make elaborate bag nests hanging from trees (whence “penduline”, hanging), usually over water; inclusion of the fire-capped tit in this family is disputed by some authorities.

Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) by D

Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) by D

The Verdin was one of the Life Birds seen on our vacation this year. Didn’t want to stay put to have its photo taken. Then again, most of the titmice act that way. (Is it titmouses or titmice? :)  )

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Little is much when God is in it, and these little birds are great creations from their Creator.

So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:21 NKJV)

“Just a Little Talk With Jesus Makes It Right” ~ Vegter Quartet (together for Vi’s 90th Birthday)


Updated to the I.O.C. Version 3.5

Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli) ©WikiC

Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli) ©WikiC

Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. (Genesis 2:19 NKJV)

The newest update for the I.O.C. Version 3.5 came out September 30th. Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Birds of the World has the latest changes.  There are now “10,507 extant species and 150 extinct species classified in 40 Orders, 232 Families (plus 5 Incertae Sedis) and 2284 Genera.  The list also includes 20,967 subspecies.”

After making changes to around 300 pages, you should be able to find one of those 10,507 avian friends with out too much difficulty. What did they change?

They (I.O.C.) added 22 new species, deleted 2 that they turned back to just a subspecies, changed the names or spelling of 47 birds (37 of those changed the name Madagascar to Madagascan), plus they made 30 taxonomy changes.

In those taxonomy changes, they took the Paridae – Tits, Chickadees family and threw it up in the air and let it fall totally different. At least, that is my description of it. Actually, because of DNA studies, they found that the birds are related differently in the family than they thought. They also shuffled the Aratinga species of Parakeets around.

These are the new birds that they added:

Reunion Sheldgoose (Alopochen kervazoi)
Ameline Swiftlet (Aerodramus amelis)
Ochre-backed Woodpecker (Celeus ochraceus)
Iberian Green Woodpecker (Picus sharpe)
Mistletoe Tyrannulet (Zimmerius parvus)
Venezuelan Tyrannulet (Zimmerius petersi)
Coopmans’s Tyrannulet (Zimmerius minimus)
Chico’s Tyrannulet (Zimmerius chicomendesi)
Junin Tapaculo (Scytalopus gettyae)
Delta Amacuro Softtail (Thripophaga amacurensis)
Pale-blue Monarch (Hypothymis puella)
Ua Pou Monarch (Pomarea mira) Extant – based on a recent sighting
Caspian Tit (Poecile hyrcanus)
Sierra Madre Ground Warbler (Robsonius thompsoni)
Cambodian Tailorbird (Orthotomus chaktomuk)
Chinese Wren-babbler (Pnoepyga mutica)
Zappey’s Flycatcher (Cyanoptila cumatilis)
Magnificent Sunbird (Aethopyga magnifica)
Maroon-naped Sunbird (Aethopyga guimarasensis)
Bohol Sunbird (Aethopyga decorosa)
Luzon Sunbird (Aethopyga jefferyi)
Zarudny’s Sparrow (Passer zarudnyi)
Taiwan Rosefinch (Carpodacus formosanus)


(Black-faced) Quailfinch (Ortygospiza atricollis) ©WikiC

(Black-faced) Quailfinch (Ortygospiza atricollis) ©WikiC Now only called a Quailfinch

These are the two they deleted. They went back to being supspecies of the Black-faced Quailfinch, which is now only called a Quailfinch (Ortygospiza atricollis).

African Quailfinch (Ortygospiza fuscocrissa)
Black-chinned Quailfinch (Ortygospiza gabonensis)


Madagascan Pochard (Aythya innotata) ©WikiC

Madagascan Pochard (Aythya innotata) ©WikiC

Their spelling changes caused me to hunt down 37 Madagascar birds and rename them Madagascan. Here are those changes:

Madagascan Blue Pigeon (Alectroenas madagascariensis)
Madagascan Buttonquail (Turnix nigricollis)
Madagascan Buzzard (Buteo brachypterus)
Madagascan Cisticola (Cisticola cherina)
Madagascan Cuckoo (Cuculus rochii)
Madagascan Cuckoo-Hawk (Aviceda madagascariensis)
Madagascan Cuckooshrike (Coracina cinerea)
Madagascan Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides)
Madagascan Flufftail (Sarothrura insularis)
Madagascan Grebe (Tachybaptus pelzelnii)
Madagascan Green Pigeon (Treron australis)
Madagascan Harrier-Hawk (Polyboroides radiatus)
Madagascan Hoopoe (Upupa marginata)
Madagascan Ibis (Lophotibis cristata)
Madagascan Jacana (Actophilornis albinucha)
Madagascan Lark (Mirafra hova)
Madagascan Magpie-Robin (Copsychus albospecularis)
Madagascan Mannikin (Lemuresthes nana)
Madagascan Nightjar (Caprimulgus madagascariensis)
Madagascan Owl (Asio madagascariensis)
Madagascan Partridge (Margaroperdix madagarensis)
Madagascan Plover (Charadrius thoracicus)
Madagascan Pochard (Aythya innotata)
Madagascan Pratincole (Glareola ocularis)
Madagascan Pygmy Kingfisher (Corythornis madagascariensis)
Madagascan Rail (Rallus madagascariensis)
Madagascan Sandgrouse (Pterocles personatus)
Madagascan Serpent Eagle (Eutriorchis astur)
Madagascan Snipe (Gallinago macrodactyla)
Madagascan Sparrowhawk (Accipiter madagascariensis)
Madagascan Spinetail (Zoonavena grandidieri)
Madagascan Starling (Hartlaubius auratus)
Madagascan Stonechat (Saxicola sibilla)
Madagascan Swamp Warbler (Acrocephalus newtoni)
Madagascan Wagtail (Motacilla flaviventris)
Madagascan Wood Rail (Canirallus kioloides)
Madagascan Yellowbrow (Crossleyia xanthophrys)


There are other changes and they can be seen at the I.O.C. World Bird List Website:


Birds Vol 1 #5 – The Black-capped Chickadee

Chickadee by.Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Chickadee by.Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. May, 1897 No. 5



Bird of the Merry Heart.Here is a picture of a bird that is always merry. He is a bold, saucy little fellow, too, but we all love him for it. Don’t you think he looks some like the Canada Jay that you saw in April “Birds?” I think most of you must have seen him, for he stays with us all the year, summer and winter. If you ever heard him, you surely noticed how plainly he tells you his name. Listen—“Chick-a-dee-dee; Chick-a-dee; Hear, hear me”—That’s what he says as he hops about from twig to twig in search of insects’ eggs and other bits for food. No matter how bitter the wind or how deep the snow, he is always around—the same jolly, careless little fellow, chirping and twittering his notes of good cheer.

Like the Yellow Warblers, Chickadees like best to make their home in an old stump or hole in a tree—not very high from the ground. Sometimes they dig for themselves a new hole, but this is only when they cannot find one that suits them. The Chickadee is also called Black-capped Titmouse. If you look at his picture you will see his black cap. You’ll have to ask someone why he is called Titmouse. I think Chickadee is the prettier name, don’t you? If you want to get well acquainted with this saucy little bird, you want to watch for him next winter, when most of the birds have gone south. Throw him crumbs of bread and he will soon be so tame as to come right up to the door step.


“Chic-chickadee dee!” I saucily say; My heart it is sound, my throat it is gay! Every one that I meet I merrily greet With a chickadee dee, chickadee dee! To cheer and to cherish, on roadside and street, My cap was made jaunty, my note was made sweet.

Chickadeedee, Chickadeedee! No bird of the winter so merry and free; Yet sad is my heart, though my song one of glee, For my mate ne’er shall hear my chickadeedee.

I “chickadeedee” in forest and glade, “Day, day, day!” to the sweet country maid; From autumn to spring time I utter my song Of chickadeedee all the day long! The silence of winter my note breaks in twain, And I “chickadeedee” in sunshine and rain.

Chickadeedee Chickadeedee! No bird of the winter so merry and free; Yet sad is my heart, though my song one of glee, For my mate ne’er shall hear my chickadeedee.—C. C. M.


SAUCY little bird, so active and familiar, the Black-Capped Chickadee, is also recognized as the Black Capped Titmouse, Eastern Chickadee, and Northern Chickadee. He is found in the southern half of the eastern United States, north to or beyond forty degrees, west to eastern Texas and Indian Territory. The favorite resorts of the Chickadee are timbered districts, especially in the bottom lands, and where there are red bud trees, in the soft wood of which it excavates with ease a hollow for its nest. It is often wise enough, however, to select a cavity already made, as the deserted hole of the Downy Woodpecker, a knot hole, or a hollow fence rail.

In the winter season it is very familiar, and is seen about door yards and orchards, even in towns, gleaning its food from the kitchen remnants, where the table cloth is shaken, and wherever it may chance to find a kindly hospitality. In an article on “Birds as Protectors of Orchards,” Mr. E. H. Forbush says of the Chickadee: “There is no bird that compares with it in destroying the female canker-worm moths and their eggs.” He calculated that one Chickadee in one day would destroy 5,550 eggs, and in the twenty-five days in which the canker-worm moths run or crawl up the trees 138,750 eggs. Mr. Forbush attracted Chickadees to one orchard by feeding them in winter, and he says that in the following summer it was noticed that while trees in neighboring orchards were seriously damaged by canker-worms, and to a less degree by tent caterpillars, those in the orchard which had been frequented by the Chickadee during the winter and spring were not seriously infested, and that comparatively few of the worms and caterpillars were to be found there. His conclusion is that birds that eat eggs of insects are of the greatest value to the farmer, as they feed almost entirely on injurious insects and their eggs, and are present all winter, where other birds are absent.

The tiny nest of the Chickadee is made of all sorts of soft materials, such as wool, fur, feathers, and hair placed in holes in stumps of trees. Six to eight eggs are laid, which are white, thickly sprinkled with warm brown. Mrs. Osgood Wright tells a pretty incident of the Chickadees, thus: “In the winter of 1891-2, when the cold was severe, the snow deep, and the tree trunks often covered with ice, the Chickadees repaired in flocks daily to the kennel of our old dog Colin and fed from his dish, hopping over his back and calling Chickadee, dee, dee, in his face, a proceeding that he never in the least resented, but seemed rather to enjoy it.”

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) by Kent Nickell

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) by Kent Nickell

Lee’s Addition:

A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness. All the days of the afflicted are evil, But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast. Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, Than great treasure with trouble. (Proverbs 15:13-16 NKJV)

The Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) is a small, North American songbird, a passerine bird in the Tit, Chickadee – Paridae Family. It is the state bird of both Maine and Massachusetts in the United States, and the provincial bird of New Brunswick in Canada. It is notable for its capacity to lower its body temperature during cold winter nights, its good spatial memory to relocate the caches where it stores food, and its boldness near humans (they can feed from the hand).

On cold winter nights, these birds reduce their body temperature by up to 10–12 °C (from their normal temperature of about 42 °C) to conserve energy.[8] Such a capacity for torpor is rare in birds (or at least, rarely studied). Other bird species capable of torpor include the Common Swift Apus apus, the Common Poor-will Phalaenoptilus nuttallii, the Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis, and various species of hummingbirds.

Black-capped Chickadee by Dave's BirdingPix

Black-capped Chickadee by Dave’s BirdingPix

The Black-capped Chickadee has a black cap and bib with white sides to the face. Its underparts are white with rusty brown on the flanks. Its back is gray and the tail is normally slate-gray. This bird has a short dark bill (8.0-9.5 mm), short rounded wings (63.5-67.5 mm) and a long tail (58–63 mm). Total body length is 12–15 cm (4.7–5.9 in), wingspan is 16–21 cm (6.3–8.3 in) and body mass is 9–14 g (0.32–0.49 oz). Sexes look alike, but males are slightly larger and longer than females.

Although range can generally be used to separate them, the Black-capped Chickadee is very similar in appearance to the Carolina Chickadee. The Black-capped is larger on average but this cannot be used reliably for identification. The most obvious difference between the two is in the wing feathers. In the Black-capped Chickadee, the wing feathers have white edges that are larger and more conspicuous than those of the Carolina Chickadee.

Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) by Daves BirdingPix

Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) by Daves BirdingPix

A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. (Proverbs 17:22 NKJV)


Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 May, 1897 No 5 - Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 May, 1897 No 5 – Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the first article in the monthly serial that was started in January 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

Previous Article – The Marsh Hawk


Black-capped Chickadee All About Birds

All About Black-capped Chickadee – Sialis

Black-capped Chickadee – National Geographic

Tit, Chickadee – Paridae Family

Black-capped Chickadee – Wikipedia



Interesting Things – Reshaped Wings, Forest Birds, Evolution?

I came across an interesting article in Science News, September 12, 2009, called, “Rapid evolution may be reshaping forest birds’ wings,” by Susan Millius. Subtitle – “Trend for pointier appendages in heavily logged boreal forests, with blunter, rounder ones in reforested parts of New England.”

Boreal Chickadee (Poecile hudsonicus) by Daves BirdingPix

Boreal Chickadee (Poecile hudsonicus) by Daves BirdingPix

Records have been kept on birds that live in the boreal forest of Canada and parts of New England for the past centrury. These areas were heavily logged and left bare or reforested as in parts of New England.

When the records were analyzed, a trend developed. Wings of forest birds where the trees were logged and left bare were longer (approximately by 2 cm) and more pointed, whereas, the forest birds that had the trees replanted and the forest renewed, had shorter (by 2 cm) and rounder wings. They are comparing the same species of birds in both places.

“Mature-woodland species showed the clearest change in pointiness regardless of body size, Desrochers said. During the past century, their long wing feathers, or primary feathers, overall gained about 2.23 millimeters on average. That uptick roughly matches the magnitude of differences between sexes. For example, a female boreal chickadee’s wing today is about the length of a male’s in 1900, he said.

Desrochers also included more southerly species on his list, such as the scarlet tanager and hooded warbler. These birds had experienced a very different century. The landscape of New England, deforested during previous years, rebounded into green woodland again. And here, Desrochers found a trend back toward rounder wing tips. The eight mature-woodland species he studied typically had lost, on average, some 2.37 millimeters on those long primary feathers.

These species aren’t passive victims of environmental change, Desrochers said. As bird species face new challenges, they respond to the extent they can. “Birds are not like sitting ducks,” he said.”

David Winkler said, “It’s surprising that there’s so much change so fast.” He also noted, “doesn’t explicitly address whether the wings change by evolution or by some other process. Winkler said that in observing changes and invoking evolution, “we need to be careful.”

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) by Kent Nickell

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) by Kent Nickell

Well, of course, those statements caught my interest. I believe in a Creator who supplies his creation with tremendous capability to adapt and have their needs supplied. I believe in natural selection and variation, but not something turning into something else or “macro-evolution.” I think the bird changed “by some other process,” namely, God’s protective watch-care.

Reading through the comments left, several were of note:

“I wonder what the “evolution might be directed by the species itself” refers to. It’s obvious here that the evolutionary selection of birds with appropriately shaped wings is caused by external forces, nothing the bird is doing. Those birds in areas that are opened up which have slightly longer wings are able to raise more chicks, while those in areas that are being reforested that have more rounded wings are able to raise more chicks. The reason is that distance flying is done more efficiently with longer (and therefore pointier) wings, while maneuverability is required in heavily branched areas and is done with shorter wings.

As for whether the wings are being worn out by contact with branches, this would be evident because the wear at the tip would be obvious. Feather shafts don’t go the whole way to the end of the feather, so if the tips were worn off, it would be noticed”  by DM (very good comment)

“Could the shorter wings of birds in denser forests be due to greater feather wear from brushing against branches and foliage? Maybe all wing feathers start out pointy and simply wear into a rounded shape.” by KC

More searching on the internet turned up a remark about this article at Answers in Genesis with this very interesting statement:  “The report notes that “as bird species face new challenges, they respond to the extent they can.” This comports with the creationist view: God included a range of genetic information and adaptability in organisms to allow them to live properly in a range of habitats.

The scientists aren’t certain how significant a role genes play in the wing tip changes. Still, Cornell University ornithologist David Winkler noted, “It’s surprising that there’s so much change so fast,” and Desrochers calls “rapid evolution” the most direct explanation. The speed of the changes indicates how the created kinds could have speciated rapidly after the Flood. Centuries of accumulated changes between some populations from the same created kinds resulted in sexual incompatibility. However, in other kinds (such as canids; see above), populations retain the ability even if interbreeding is uncommon.”

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! (Luke 12:24 ESV)

God is providing for the birds and we know He will provide for us, especially if we belong to Him.

Bolding is by Lee.