What black-capped chickadees lack of brilliantly colored feathers, they make up for in personality.
Here at the Applegate household, they can often be seen sitting only inches away when I fill the bird feeders. They are always busy, flitting back and forth and never sit still for long.
However, their seemly cheerful chirps and puffy cheeks are a welcome sound and sight.
"Not only are these birds super cute, they also have winning personalities.
They are curious and unafraid of humans, and old-time birders call this classic chickadee trait 'confiding,'" added a Sally Roth, author of an article titled "The Chickadee Bunch: All About Chickadees" posted on www.birdsandblooms.com.
Local longtime birder and Seneca Rocks Audubon Society member Gary Edwards repeats this sentiment in his book "Birds of Venango County."
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"Its habit of investigating people and everything else in its home territory, and quickness to discover bird feeders, make it one of the first birds most people learn," said a post on The Cornell Lab's All About Birds website,
Black-capped chickadees can be found at feeders throughout much of the continent, from Alaska and Canada to the mountains of New Mexico and Tennessee, according to Roth.
While parts of Pennsylvania are home to another chickadee, the Carolina chickadee, Edwards' research has found that that species has only ventured as far north as Butler County. In southern Pennsylvania, the Carolina chickadee and black-capped chickadee crossbreed which can make identification difficult.
Meanwhile, those of us in the north usually only have the black-capped chickadee appearing in our yards and at our feeders.
When the little birds visit, they often hoard food for later.
"The black-capped chickadee hides seeds and other food items to eat later. Each item is placed in a different spot and the chickadee can remember thousands of hiding places," said a post on The Cornell Lab's All About Birds website.
In addition to its personality, the chickadee is known for its call which is the reason behind its name.
According to the All About Birds post on chickadees, they actually have different sounding calls.
"Chickadees make their chickadee-dee-dee call using increasing numbers of dee notes when they are alarmed. They also have a gargling call, often given aggressively when a lower-ranking bird gets close to a higher-ranking one; also exchanged between members of a pair. Black-capped Chickadees make a high pitched see as a high-intensity alarm call, often when a fast-approaching predator is detected. When chickadees hear this call, they freeze in position until they hear a chickadee-dee call signifying 'all clear,'" the post stated.
The post also went on to state that "chickadee nestlings make an explosive hiss and slap the inside of their nest cavity when an intruder looks in."
According to a post titled "Chickadees start to sing a song of spring" the increasing daylight hours signal the love songs.
"Although mating pairs formed back in the fall and remain together as part of a winter flock, the longer days are stimulating the birds to sing to renew coupling bonds. Males begin singing in mid-January, and increases in frequency as the daylight progresses. The singing of these common winter-residents is one of the first vocal signs that spring is around the corner," the post stated.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.