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Black-capped Chickadee

Maine State Bird

Black-capped chickadee; photo by Robert Taylor (Bobolink) on Flickr (use permitted with attribution).

Official State Bird of Maine

Maine designated the black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) as the official state bird in 1927  The black-capped chickadee is also the state bird of Massachusetts. All State Birds

The black-capped chickadee is a member of the titmouse family (also known as the titmouse, tomtit, and the dickybird). A common backyard bird, black-capped chickadees inhabit the northern two thirds of the United States and much of Canada . They are found deep in the forests and in suburban areas.

A minuscule, cheerfully sociable bird, the energetic black-capped chickadee does not migrate - we can enjoy them all year long! The unique call of the chickadee is one of the most complex in the animal kingdom - very slight variations in the "chick-a-dee" can act as an alarm call, a contact call, or can be used to relay information when they recognize another flock.

The black-capped chickadee is omnivorous (eats both plants and animals). Caterpillars, spiders and other insects make up about half of their diet, with seeds and berries filling in the rest. The chickadee is known for "caching" food, hiding seeds and berries in crevices of tree bark and under leaves. They can remember where they have hidden their stored foods for up to a month!

The black-capped chickadee is monogamous and when a pair bonds, they remain together for life. The female builds their nest in abandoned woodpecker cavities or nesting boxes. Sometimes, the female will fashion her own cavity in a rotten tree trunk, not an easy task for a bird with such a tiny bill. The male feeds the female during the nest building and during the time she is brooding her clutch of six to eight eggs. When the babies hatch, both parents share the job of feeding them.