"The Christmas Card Bird"
The Black-capped Chickadee, known as the Christmas Card bird (because it’s painted on so many Christmas Cards), is a popular visitor to backyards across the northern US and Canada, and rarely found in mine. But no worry, I love living in St. George anyway because within just a few short miles the elevation elevates and there are forested areas where I can find Black-capped Chickadees. They are permanent residents of Pinevalley, Oak Grove, Cedar Mountain, Mount Trumbull, and Zion. This Chickadee is one of the most studied bird species in the world. It has complex vocalizations approaching that of human speech. Chickadees live and feed in dense vegetation and spend most of their lifetimes out of each other’s visual range. To keep in touch, Chickadees send messages by vocalizing to alert each other to danger, finding a food supply, raising their brood, and for breeding purposes. The song most often heard is Chick-a-dee-dee-dee, but they have many songs. Studies show the number of dees in a song indicates the level of a threat from nearby predators. In one case, a warning call about a Pygmy Owl (prime threats to chickadees) contained 23 dees. You may also hear them call ‘hey sweetie’, ti-ti-ti-whistle, or a ‘gargle noise’. Each song has a unique meaning.
Chickadees are able to reduce their body temperature on cold winter nights to conserve energy. When it’s winter, they will flock with other species. These mixed flocks stay together because the Chickadees will call out whenever they find a good source of food which they all share. In summer Chickadees feed on insects, in winter they eat seeds and berries. To open the larger seeds, they will hammer them on a tree or shrub and then store the seeds for later use. The Black-capped Chickadee uses holes in trees to nest in, old woodpecker nests, and nesting boxes.
Brenda Rusnell is the artist for the beautiful Black-capped Chickadee. Brenda is busy teaching her drawing techniques at ICL Drawing and Color Pencil classes. Thank you Brenda for sharing your picture and talents with all of us. Watch for your Christmas Cards, advertisements, and announcements and see how many Black-capped Chickadees come to visit your home this year. For more information about birds, or the upcoming Christmas Bird Counts call Marilyn Davis at 435 673-0996.