Meet the Adorable Black Capped Chickadee

Updated: Dec. 17, 2021

The black capped chickadee is one of the friendliest fliers in North America. Learn more about their song, nest and more.

What Does a Black Capped Chickadee Look Like?


  •  Scientific Name: Poecile atricapilla
  • Family: Chickadee
  • Length: 5-1/4 inches
  • Wingspan: 8 inches
  • Distinctive Markings: Black cap and chin, white cheeks and gray back

Check out 20 incredibly cute chickadee pictures.

Male and Female Chickadees

“How do you tell male and female black capped chickadees apart?” asks Hannah and Lily Ashdown of Schuylerville, New York. Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly write, “Male and female black capped chickadees look identical, at least to humans, so behavioral clues are the only ways to distinguish them. It’s mostly males that sing the signature fee-bee song. And, in aggressive encounters at bird feeders, males are usually dominant over females. In gentler times, a male will feed his mate during courtship. Both members of a pair hollow out a nest cavity in a tree, then the female builds a nest inside and incubates the eggs. After the eggs hatch, the male brings most of the food to the nest at first, while the female tends to the hatchlings.

What Do Black Capped Chickadees Eat?

Bnbbyc19 Christa ZantoCourtesy Christa Zanto

Their diet consists of insects, berries and seeds. Backyard favorites include sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet and nyjer.

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Nest and Eggs

Black capped chickadee adult and juvenile

This species uses birdhouses and natural cavities to protect the nest made of plant fibers, wool, hair and moss. Six to eight white eggs with brown spots are housed inside.

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Black Capped Chickadee Sounds and Song

Roland Jordahl
Black capped chickadee

Listen to the black capped chickadee’s sounds. Their “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” is its recognizable call; the song is a “phoe-bee” tune.

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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Black Capped Chickadee Range Map and Habitat

Three black capped chickadees on a branch in falling snow.Courtesy Peg Runyan

Look for these birds in wooded residential areas and open woodlands. Chickadees don’t migrate, so keep your backyard feeders clean and filled for these birds year-round.

Black-capped Chickadee Bird Species

Range maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.