Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Black-capped Chickadee

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Paridae | [latin] Poecile atricapillus | [UK] Black-capped Chickadee | [FR] Mesange a tete noire | [DE] Schwarzkopf-Meise | [ES] Carbonero Cabecinegro | [NL] Amerikaanse Matkop


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Poecile atricapillus NA n
Poecile atricapillus atricapillus
Poecile atricapillus bartletti
Poecile atricapillus fortuitus
Poecile atricapillus garrinus
Poecile atricapillus nevadensis
Poecile atricapillus occidentalis
Poecile atricapillus practicus
Poecile atricapillus septentrionalis
Poecile atricapillus turneri

Physical charateristics

This small tame acrobat is distinctively patterned with a combination of black cap and bib, white cheeks. Sides buffy.

Listen to the sound of Black-capped Chickadee

[audio: Chickadee.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 16 cm wingspan max.: 21 cm
size min.: 12 cm size max.: 15 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 13 days
fledging min.: 12 days fledging max.: 16 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 10  


North America : North


Mixed and deciduous woods; willow thickets, groves, shade trees. Most common in open woods and forest edges, especially where birches or alders grow; avoids purely coniferous forest. Where it overlaps with othe
r chickadee species in the north and west, Black-capped is mostly restricted to deciduous groves. Will live in suburbs as long as nest sites are available.


Pairs typically form in fall and remain together as part of winter flock. Male often feeds female, beginning early in spring.
Nest: Site is in hole in tree, typically enlargement of small natural cavity in rotten wood, sometimes old woodpecker hole or birdhouse; usually 5-20′ above the gro
und. In natural cavity, both sexes help excavate or enlarge the interior. Nest (built by female) has foundation of moss or other matter, lining of softer material such as animal hair.
Eggs: Usually 6-8, sometimes more or fewer. White, with fine dots of reddish brown. Incubation is by female only, 12-
13 days. Female covers eggs with nest material when leaving nest. Male often feeds female during incubation.
Young: Female remains with young most of time at first, while male brings food; later, both parents bring food. Young leave nest at about 16 days. Normally 1 brood per year.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects, seeds, and berries.
Seeds and fruits may be no more than 10 percent of diet in summer, up to 50 percent in winter. Summer diet mostly caterpillars and other insects, also spiders, snails, some berries. In winter, feeds on insects, seeds, berries. Will eat fat of dead animal
Behavior: Forages mostly by hopping among twig
s, often hanging upside down to reach underside of branches. Sometimes takes food while hovering, and may catch insects in midair. Comes to bird feeders for seeds or suet. Often stores food, recovering it later.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Black-capped Chickadee status Least Concern


Alaska, Canada, northern half of United States.
b Migration:
Mostly a permanent resident, but occasionally stages “invasions” in fall, with large numbers seen flying southward (mostly in northeastern states and southeastern Canada). These invasions usually do not penetrate much beyond southern limit of breeding ran

Distribution map

Black-capped Chickadee distribution range map

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