As winter approaches, many birds are headed south. One tiny species, however, will hang around and tough it through the cold months. The black-capped chickadee is a common visitor to refuges and backyards across the Northern states. Weighing in at less than half an ounce, it’s incredible these birds survive freezing temperatures.
Right now (and every autumn) black-capped chickadees stash food for winter. During the summer months, these birds primarily chomp on caterpillars and other insects. In the winter they’ll eat more seeds, berries and even fat from dead animals. Black-capped chickadees would be thrilled to find your seed or suet backyard feeder this winter!
Another way they stay warm is their winter coat. A half-inch layer of feathers keeps black-capped chickadees fully insulated. At night, their body temperature drops 12-15 degrees, reducing their rate of fat consumption by about 25%. This is essential for conserving energy.
If you’re interested in welcoming these birds to your yard, you can offer seed or suet feeders. Providing a roosting box, snags or evergreen trees can offer shelter from harsh elements. Enjoy these delightful winter birds!
Note: Black-capped chickadees are very similar in appearance to Carolina chickadees. This visual comparison should help you tell the difference.