This is the Black-capped Chickadee. Google Images
This is the Black-capped Chickadee. Google Images

Submitted by Debby Walters/Cathy Olyphant

WOODVILLE, WI – Everyone in Wisconsin probably knows this perky little bird, the black-capped chickadee, a year-round resident who says his name “chick-a-dee-dee”. Chickadees are curious birds who investigate everything in their home territory. If you have enough patience they might even eat out of your hand. Much to the delight of the kindergarteners who put their pine cone bird feeders out at Giezendanner School Forest, the chickadees begin feeding on them immediately!

Every creature has something that makes it special. Keeping its little body warm throughout cold winter nights requires the chickadee to feed constantly during the day. It needs 10 times more food in the winter than in the summer so it is constantly searching for food. They hide, or cache, much of the food for later use. During the summer and fall, a chickadee’s brain (the hippocampus) actually grows and creates an exact map of the thousands of seeds it’s hidden. As he eats them up during the winter, his hippocampus begins to shrink. Scientists are currently studying this with the hopes that what they learn can someday be applied to treating Alzheimer’s since in Alzheimer’s patients the hippocampus shrinks.

Unlike many bird species, there is a healthy population of the black-capped chickadees. To attract them to your feeders, black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts and suet are their favorites. They don’t eat the seeds at the feeder but, instead, fly to a nearby bush or tree to eat safely protected from a predator. They are cavity dwellers so will nest in bird houses in the spring. They make a comfy nest of soft moss and line it with animal fur.

If you are interested in learning more about birds or joining with area bird lovers, the St. Croix Valley Bird Club is holding a free program on Saturday, January 19 at 1:00 pm at the River Falls Public Library. The speaker will be Bridget Olson from St. Croix Wetland Management in New Richmond. 

The mission of the St. Croix Valley Bird Club is to encourage interest in birds among people of the St. Croix Valley, thereby promoting habitat conservation and restoration efforts. Find them on FaceBook or at scvbirdclub.com/.