Smart little chickadee


Let me start with a little back-story. Every year for the past several I have had 3 Mountain Chickadees spend the winter in and near my yard on south central Colorado. They spend a lot of time in the two Colorado blue spruce I have and I suspect they may roost inside it’s protective boughs at night. Mountain Chickadees are found at a little higher to much higher elevation for the rest of the year but some do what is called an altitudinal migration during fall and winter to lower elevation areas such as where I live.

As the close-up photo just above shows Mountain Chickadees have a white eyebrow. In
fact the sub-species found in the Rocky Mountains has a wide white eyebrow, with buff or brownish-olive backs and buff sides. Otherwise they are similar to Black-capped and Carolina Chickadees with their black caps, whitish cheeks and underparts.

So three Mountain Chickadees had arrived in my yard around the first of October and they have coming to their feeder in my yard. Then just a few days ago I was sitting on my deck and watching them and some other birds coming to my feeders and to the sunflowers plants in my garden. I got a phone call and was busy talking as one of the Mountain Chickadees came on to my deck several times, probing in the beams which I supposed was to look for insects. I was surprised it kept coming so close but figured these birds are likely the same ones that have been coming and know me now.

As I continue my phone conversation this chickadee lands just 2 feet away on a cardboard box and proceeds to tap with it’s bill. I was now really surprised as this was very close plus I could not figure out why it was tapping there as there were no seeds or insects. It then flew directly to the feeder I put their sunflower seeds in and proceeded to tap away at the feeders bottom. I wondered if the feeder might be empty. I had ended my phone conversation so I got up and walked over to the feeder–it was empty. That smart little chickadee had been trying to get my attention to communicate that it wanted me to put out my seeds! So I did get more seeds and placed them in the feeder. Just as soon as I had done that and walked away a few feet the chickadee, that had been perched nearby watching, flew to the feeder to get a seed. How amazing!

  1. says

    I am not aware if we have these birds in our area, probably we do. Whether we have them or not in our area they sure are pretty and awesome birds.

  2. Vince says

    Etta —
    I also have between 4 and 6 Chickadees that spend the winter here in south central MT with me. They nest in the large spruce trees that surround my property. They are brave little souls and do not seem to fear people. I have even had them take sunflower seeds from the palm of my hand. It takes several days of putting seeds close to where you sit on the porch or deck but in relative short time, they will be busily landing and snatching seeds from the table and then your hand! These little guys seem to know that when I am outside the hawks are gone. It’s as if they know that we feed them and keep the raptors away.

  3. says

    I love the pictures, here in central Mo I only have Black-capped Chickadees, but they are one of my favorite birds, have many sweatshirts with chickadees on them..thanks for taking such an interest in them…

  4. Elizabeth says

    We have lots of chickadees all year long, they are so sweet. At another feeder we just had about 5 or 6 Gold Finch. I was surprised to see them as the weather is getting cooler and nights Brrrrr. I followed instructions from Birds & Bloom on making feeder cakes. I made cup caked and the chickadees love it as well as tit mice and Jays. I built a covered feeder tray and I can fill it easy from my window. It is like grand central station once the food is out in the am then again in the afternoon. It is funny to watch the antics when some one doesn’t get along. Love your pictures. The Waxwing is beautiful. Thanks Birds & Bloom for the email love seeing your pictures and making new feeders and houses.

  5. T Trossbach says

    Chickadees are my favorite! I just love hearing them in the trees and they are so spunky! Thank you for this story Birds and Blooms.

  6. Deborah Wellnitz says

    Our black capped Chick-a-dees scold us from nearby branches when we walk to the feeder and refill it. They watch, and immediately begin eating as we walk away! Love these little Winter visitors here in Wisconsin!

  7. Shane says

    We have black capped where I live. In several parks, there area areas where we hand feed them. Just a few sunflower seeds on your palm and hold your hand out, down they come. Quite fun, really. It’s said other birds will learn this too, but none are as brave as the chickadees.

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