The humble chickadee is a hardy bird, remaining sprightly and active even in the depths of a New England winter. The Massachusetts state bird, chickadees can be found in all corners of the Commonwealth wherever there are at least a few trees. Their vocal natures and acrobatic antics make them pleasant and interesting little neighbors.
Black-capped chickadees are small (just over five inches) and often appear large-headed and somewhat “fluffy.” Their black caps and throats make a stark contrast with their white cheeks, forming a distinctive pattern.
Chickadees are gray above and white to pale brown below; black-capped chickadees often show a significant amount of white on their otherwise gray wings.
The song of the chickadee is a clearly whistled two-note swee-tie, with a third note audible at close range: here, swee-tie. The bird gets its name from its call, given in all seasons, a rapid chickadee-dee-dee-dee.
Black-capped chickadees flock together and with other birds (especially nuthatches, titmice, and downy woodpeckers) throughout the winter months.
When feeding, chickadees are curious and active, taking advantage of their strong feet and small size to crawl to the very edges of twigs, sometimes hanging upside down to pick at a promising morsel.
Black-capped chickadees are stable or increasing in all seasons, and are one of the most common and widespread bird species in the state. Learn more in the Breeding Bird Atlas 2.