Hang a bird feeder this fall and you'll probably see an enchanting little bird: the black-capped chickadee. This tiny species possesses big curiosity, which often makes it one of the first birds to visit a newly hung feeder.
Because chickadees can cling to upright surfaces, they perform wonderful acrobatic feats as they feed, sometimes snatching seeds while hanging upside down. Their "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" calls cheerfully accompany garden chores.
Roll out the welcome mat for chickadees by following four simple steps:
1. Provide Food
In the wild, chickadees eat mostly insects and their eggs. But they'll also visit bird feeders stocked with seeds, such as from sunflowers, and peanuts.
In my yard they eat suet, safflower seeds (seems to be their favorite), and a woodpecker blend containing seeds and fruit. Chickadees don't need perches; choose a bird feeder with mesh sides, or a suet feeder to enjoy their clinging ways.
2. Offer Water
Black-capped chickadees need reliable water sources such as birdbaths.
In winter use a heated birdbath or add a heater to an existing bath. I include two stones in this deeper birdbath to give small birds, such as chickadees, an easy perch for sipping.
3. Nurture Nesting
Chickadees nest in holes they excavate in living and dead trees and also will use birdhouses, like this one in my yard.
Choose a birdhouse designed for cavity-nesting birds, with a 1-in entry hole. Stuff the birdhouse with wood shavings up to the entrance hole. Chickadees need something to excavate as part of the nesting process.
4. Create Habitat
Choose plants that offer chickadees places to perch and search out insects. In my garden the chickadees flit and sit among Brussels sprouts and red-leaf cannas.
Their bug-eating ways help control caterpillars and aphids on the Brussels sprouts. Shrubs and trees also provide effective shelter for these little birds.
Discover more facts about black-capped chickadees on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology chickadee page. To learn even more about these birds, hang a bird feeder this fall and observe them firsthand.