Is there anyone who doesn’t love chickadees? They’re so cooperative and bold that I can get nice photos of them even through a window with my little point-and-shoot.
(For those less familiar with North American birds, these specifically are Black-capped Chickadees, Poecile atricapillus. In my travels around the continent I’ve also seen Carolina Chickadees, Mountain Chickadees, and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, but I missed out on Mexican Chickadees when I was in southeastern Arizona. I’m hoping to add Boreal Chickadees to my list while I’m living here in the North Woods.)
Chickadees are one animal I can’t help anthropomorphizing (that is, ascribing human qualities to). They’re just so friendly. They regularly come flying right up to me, chirping and calling as if saying hello, and I love to stop and gossip with them – they respond very strongly to “pishing,” the sound birders make to call in songbirds. In fact, when I’m on the trail with a group of kids (or even non-birding adults!) I love to tell them that I “speak chickadee” and then demonstrate by calling in a flock of chickadees with pishing. Winter here would be far less cheerful without the boisterous chickadees enlivening the woods – they’re one of just a handful of songbird species that doesn’t migrate south.
Some days I can’t help but wonder if the chickadees that frequent the feeders where I work might even recognize me as an individual. After all, I walk past their feeders every day in a distinctive bright pink coat, usually stopping to “chat” with them, and birds have excellent color vision. It’s a nice thought. Crows have been demonstrated to be able to recognize individual people, so why not chickadees?
For every “good” chickadee photo I managed to take, there was a photo showing only blurs of motion as chickadees arrived and departed. Truth be told I like these “bad” photos just as well. (Look carefully – there are two birds in the first photo, one in the second.)
Do you have chickadees where you live? Which species?