Maine State Bird - Chickadee



(Parus atricapillus)
Adopted on April 6, 1927.

Maine's State Federation of Women's Clubs campaigned for the black-capped chickadee.

The Blacked-capped Chickadee is a common sight in the woods and at backyard bird feeders throughout the state. The brownish-black bill is short, straight and rounded. The Chickadee's glossy head is large with a short neck and dark brown eyes. Its body is thick. The feathers are blended and short. The tail is long, arched, and rounded, with twelve slender feathers. Feet and claws are greyish-blue. The whole upper part of the head and the hind neck is pure black, as is a large patch on the throat and fore-neck. The Chickadee is approximately 5 inches in length.

Black-capped Chickadees eat a variety of foods including insect eggs, ants, beetles, aphids, millipedes, snails, and other small creatures. They also eat seeds of conifers, goldenrod, ragweed, and wild fruit. Black-capped Chickadees are not very picky at the feeder and will eat cornmeal, sunflower seeds, suet, pumpkin seeds, and peanut butter.

Black-capped Chickadees prefer to live in mixed hardwood-coniferous forests. They also reside in small woodlands and shrubs by residential areas.

Both the male and female have similar plumage. Black-capped Chickadees have light gray backs and tails. They also have white bellies and cheeks. They got the name "Black-capped Chickadee" because they have some black feathers on their heads that look like a cap. Black-capped Chickadees also have some black feathers on their necks that look similar to a bib. In the winter, their sides are a deep brown.

Black-capped Chickadees survive the freezing weather by storing food they can use later in the season. Black-capped Chickadees can remember where they stored seeds for up to eight months, which is more than enough time to get them through the winter.

Black-capped Chickadees also survive the winter by lowering their body temperatures at night, entering a state of controlled hypothermia. In essence, they slow the blood flowing to the parts of their bodies they don't use while they are sleeping. This helps them save much-needed energy.

  • Length: 4.5 inches
  • Short bill
  • Black crown and throat
  • White face
  • Pale gray upperparts
  • White edges to wing coverts
  • Grayish-white underparts
  • Rusty flanks
  • Sexes similar
  • Often found in small flocks
Kingdom Animalia -- animals
   Phylum Chordata -- chordates
      Subphylum Vertebrata -- vertebrates
         Class Aves -- birds
            Order Passeriformes -- perching birds
               Family Paridae -- chickadees, titmice
                  Genus Parus Linnaeus, 1758 -- chickadees, titmice
                     Species Parus atricapillus Linnaeus, 1766 -- black-capped chickadee