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Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Fee-Bee" Chickadee

This morning 2 Black-capped Chickadees each sang their "fee-bee" (a clear, whistled, 2-part sound) song from some distance apart. Many people mistake this sound for the song of the Eastern Phoebe. It is not. Eastern Phoebes make a squeaky, raspy 2-part song that sounds nothing like that of the Black-capped Chickadee. Phoebes have not yet returned from migration to here in NH.

Male chickadees sing at this time of year to attract a mate and define their territory. Chickadees are in a flock of about 6-10 or more birds in the winter that has a fixed winter territory. In spring, the flock breaks up and only the most dominant pair in the flock gets to breed in the winter territory area. The other chickadees have to go elsewhere and find their own territory. So chickadee wars will continue into spring.

Chickadees nest in tree cavities and also bird houses. We have many bird houses up on our property, maybe a chickadee will choose one, we hope.


Anonymous said...

Chickadees are very entertaining to watch. They seem very curious when I go out to fill the feeders. They get just close enough to see what I am up to, but far enough away where they feel safe. We have a pair in our yard now that have been checking out an empty bluebird box for the past week or so. Maybe they will decide to move in.

Life Looms Large said...

Thanks for reminding me about this! I always get excited when I hear this call, thinking our phoebes have returned.

Spring will arrive in NH sooner or later!


North West Birds said...

I've only heard the chickadee's chickadee-dee-dee-dee call.