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Black-capped Chickadees Celebrate Lengthening Days

1-15-13 black-capped chickadeeEven though black-capped chickadees are named for their chick-a-dee-dee-dee winter song, it is their so-called spring song which resonates most with many of us. It seems as if chickadees are immediately aware of when the days start to get longer, as their mating song begins as early as January. Sounding to some like “fee-bee” and others as “hey-sweetie,” this delightful song consists of two whistles, each about half a second long, with the second whistle a lower pitch than the first. Although these cavity nesters won’t actually be breeding until April, we will continue to be serenaded by their courtship song throughout the winter. As birdsong expert Donald Kroodsma so aptly describes this song, “It is the purest of whistles, this promise of spring.”

8 responses

  1. The mating song is truly beautiful. I love the Donald Kroodsma description of the song – it is the purest of whistles.

    January 15, 2013 at 2:10 pm

  2. Jean Killam

    Oh, I do. I heard a few down in Schenectady and then yesterday they were definitely singing their spring song. It was warm, sunny, things were melting, and they were joyful.

    January 15, 2013 at 2:36 pm

  3. John DeWitt

    Love hearing them-gives me a mid-winter boost of morale. The phoebe should take some lessons from them to soften his song(although I love hearing them too later on).

    January 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm

  4. A friend once said that song sounded like “CHEEEESEburger!” And now I can’t think of it any other way. 🙂

    January 15, 2013 at 4:35 pm

  5. arthur skura

    Moll This is the state bird of Massachusetts, the Chicadee. Every morning they come to my bird feeder and I watch them’ They can tell that the days are getting longer as spring approaches. TTYL Papa


    January 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm

  6. Lidia Rosenbaum

    It’s usually a descending major third interval, occasionally a minor third, which sounds a little more wistful.

    January 15, 2013 at 8:02 pm


    oh than you I’ve heard it and wondered “who” it was!!!!

    All the best to you,


    January 15, 2013 at 8:35 pm

  8. I heard a couple of chickadees singing their mating song last weekend here in Ottawa. A sign of things to come!

    January 17, 2013 at 1:25 am

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