This is the most prevalent species at bird feeders in Ontario, quick to find new sources of food and giving constant delight with incessant activity and fearless behaviour.
In summer, most chickadees desert the bird feeders and retire to excavate nesting holes in rotten stubs in which they raise their big families; both adults help with the excavating, turn and turn about.
Some may bring their families to feeders in late summer but it is generally October to November before they turn up in numbers. ; this is the time to be sure the feeders are well stocked and maintained throughout the winter.
Bird banders find chickadees quite a problem as they tend to get hopelessly entangled in mist nests, and vent their displeasure at being extracted and during the banding process by pecking and pulling at hang nails! Drop traps are less stressful.
With their small size, black cap and throat white cheeks, gray back and rufous-tinged sides the chickadee is known to all.
They are named from their “chick-a-dee” notes, and as spring approaches their clear, whistled “fee-be-be”” whistle is often heard and betrays their presence in the forest before they are actually seen.
The Boreal Chickadee is the only other similar species likely to be seen in Ontario, especially in Northern Ontario.