Chickadee fills robins’ role during winter

Chickadee fills robins' role during winter
Some say the first robin is a harbinger of spring; I contend it's a black-capped chickadee!

I saw one yesterday (a chickadee not a robin) and all of sudden it's vernal time again.

The snow may still be on the ground, but when the tiny bird – with the ebony beret – shows up, I know that winter is winding down, and the seasons will soon change.


I'm not normally an optimist, however, the song of that feathered flier leaves me with hope for a brighter tomorrow and I don't mind the cold like I did before.

If that little bird can sing when the wind chills are down around zero, then why should I mope in the warm house? I should join him (or her) in announcing that spring is on the way and be glad that we have made the right choice.

It's as though he (or she) welcomed us just as they do the coming of springtime which doesn't seem so far away.

The cheeriness of the chickadee is an emotion I need after several months of overcast, blustery winter. He (or she) brings a hopeful glimpse of the future – and believe me, that's what makes it easier for me.

I needed to know about the tiny bird which does so much for me, so I turned to the National Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Birds and Roger Tory Peterson's Birds of Eastern and Central North America (Fifth Edition) which we had in our library.

I learned that the black-capped chickadee is a feathered acrobat, and that it is a tame, inquisitive bird that sometimes makes regular visits to feeders in the neighborhood – although I have never see one amidst the sparrows we usually attract. Until now, that is!

The sexes look alike, and that doesn't make a differnce except to another chickadee. Eventually a boy and girl bird makes a cup-shaped nest with six to eight brown-speckled eggs to insure the continuation of the species. They usually pick a hole in a rotten tree or some other natural cavity. They have been known to nest in a bird box, too.

Their voice is a clearly enunciated chick-a-dee-dee-dee, and thus name. They also have a whistled fee-bee, with the first note higher than the second.

I would love to see a chickadee feeding upside down with its tiny feet clinging to a branch as it searches for insect eggs or larva, but I'll forgo that pleasure just to see it fulfill its role as a harbinger of spring.

Who needs robins anyhow?

© 2007 Robert F. Karolevitz

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