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This Week’s Creature Feature: A Well-Known Little Loud Mouth

These intelligent birds have plenty to talk about
The Carolina chickadee can be found from Delaware to Florida and west to Texas.
     Chickadees are a group of small but vocal birds that have learned to adapt to living around humans. They are highly intelligent and have a considerable vocabulary — among themselves. Even other animals rely on them for danger alerts as their raspy alarm can be heard for a considerable distance.
    However, they also can be quick to complain. They follow me around the woods, telling all the other animals where I am. Around my yard they complain when the feeder levels are low.
    All chickadees feed mostly on insects in the summer and seeds in the winter. They nest in hollowed areas in trees and love using animal hair to line the nest.
    They mate for life and usually have one brood a year. Thus they are very attentive to their offspring.
    You’ll see them year-round, for they do not migrate but will cluster in a foraging group consisting of pairs of adults and the associated offspring.
    Two species live in our area: the Carolina chickadee and the black-capped chickadee. The two look alike except that the black-capped has more white on the wings and a shorter tail. The call of the black-capped is less complex than the Carolina’s. The Carolina chickadee lives in lower coastal areas from Delaware to Florida and west to Texas. The black-capped chickadee lives in the mountainous area of western Maryland up to Canada. I have found them very common in Maine.
    The non-local mountain chickadee is the only one that has suffered a serious decline in its population. Since 1968 its population has declined by 51 percent, likely due to deforestation.
    These intelligent birds can live above 12,000 feet in western mountains because they have a remarkable spatial memory. They feed on insects all summer, while gathering and hiding seeds. In the winter, the little birds survive because they remember where some 10,000 seeds are hidden.
    Few other birds stay around for the harsh conditions of mountain winter.