I LOVE JUST ABOUT ALL WILD BIRDS BUT                                   

by Sally Blanchard
Maybe someone has already done an official poll in regards to this but I think I know who the winner would be if bird watchers and backyard bird feeders were asked about their favorite bird. It wouldn't necessarily be a spectacular bird but it would be one that just about everyone enjoys seeing and a bird that every person who feeds birds in their yards wants at their feeders. It would be one of the species of chickadee that lives in the United States and loves to hang out at our bird feeders. I love the way they fly in, grab a sunflower seed and take off with it. They fly to another branch where they bang the seed on the branch to help get it open. They also eat a lot of bugs and insects and even in winter, the chickadee can find them hiding in the tree bark. 

I really don't remember the first time I saw a chickadee or took the time to notice it but since then, I have been in love with them. Any day that I can see a chickadee in my yard has to be a good day.  I love it when they change from a streamlined busy little chickadee turn into a chubby chickadee sitting on a branch. In the Spring, it is a joyful experience to watch the youngsters play by chasing their parents for food and then playfully chasing each over over the tree branches.  

There are seven species of chickadees that can be seen in various places in North America. I love chickadees and have made a point of seeing them (except for the Grey-headed) when I was in their ranges. 
Black-capped Chickadee - Seen throughout parts of Alaska and Canada to the east coast and throughout most of the northern United States. 
Boreal Chickadee - Most of Alaska, Canada into northern parts of Washington, Montana, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, and Maine.
Carolina Chickadee - Southern United States from mid-Texas, lower Midwest up to Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Chestnut-backed Chickadee - Western coastal areas mid-California to Alaska, most of Washington, east to Idaho and Montana. 
Grey-headed Chickadee - This bird lives in western Canada and Alaska
Mexican Chickadee - Occurs in Mexico but can be found in southern Arizona and southern New Mexico 
Mountain Chickadee - In western mountain areas.

Chickadees are members of the family 
Paridae. Birds from this family live in the northern hemisphere and Africa. These birds are referred to as Tits (meaning diminutive), titmice, and chickadees. They are all about the same size as our chickadees and are busy, high energy birds but some are quite colorful. When I was in England a few years ago, I was delighted to see blue tits, coal tits and a great tit. I also saw the very cute long-tailed tit, although it is not in the Paridae family. They are all delightful birds to see.  

I was in Toronto to speak at the Canadian Parrot Symposium a few years ago and some friends took me on a drive so that we could do a little bird watching. It was November so it was a bit chilly. We stopped in a provincial park and as we wandered down a path, we were joined by several jaunty little chickadees following us down the trail. Someone jokingly said, "Sally, why don't you give him the "up" cue?" So I reached out my hand and said, "up."  Surprise! The closest chickadee flew over and landed on my hand. We were all amazed. Although I would love to be able to convince myself that I had some special communication with this bird, I think there is probably an explanation.  My guess is that other people walking in the area had brought along some sunflower seeds and handfed them to the friendly chickadees and that they expected others to do the same.




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