Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day

Beth Bergman's Photo of Chickadee
Just got an update from Mohonk Preserve in New Paltz that spring is on its way.  How do we/they know?  The Black-capped Chickadees  (Poecile atricapillus) are starting to make their spring breeding call.  Instead of the familiar “chickadee-dee-dee,” they are beginning to whistle their two or three note “fee-bee.” Males do it more, but both males and females start singing this new tune when spring is around the corner and they are thinking about love.  In fact, maybe that’s what “singing a different tune” refers to—time to start singing for love, making a nest, and breeding.  For those of us in the Northeast, this particular Valentine’s Day is a good day for nesting at home and avoiding the below zero, freezing weather.  I don’t know about the hunting for seeds and bugs that the chickadees do at this time of year, but curling up with someone you love in a nice warm nest sounds pretty good to me. Fee-bee, Fee-bee!

The picture above is one taken by Beth Bergman for the Field Guide to Neighborhood Birds of New York City by Leslie Day.  In it, Day tells us that the Chickadees are monogamous, that they stay in their home territory for life, and that both parents take care of the young.  They make a warm cozy nest out of fur, plant down, feathers, and cocoons.  The female produces up to 10 speckled eggs; see my drawing below.  

If you have a feeder or live near a park or a woody area, you are sure to see chickadees.  They live in all five boroughs of New York City and most other parts of the northern United States and Canada.  They are cute, curious, and clever little birds. And love birds too!

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