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Chickadees may be just about everyone’s favorite backyard feeder bird. These petite black, white and gray birds flit from place to place and bring smiles to all when they alight on a feeder. Described as friendly, cheery, or a ray of sunshine, chickadees are the darlings of the backyard bird feeding world.
Chickadees tend to feed one at a time because there is a hierarchy that allows the most dominant bird to feed first. Generally, chickadees take one seed from the feeder – sometimes choosing with care to get the heaviest seed – and they fly away to eat it and return for more. Their favorite food is oil sunflower seed, but they also eat striped sunflower seeds, peanuts and suet.
Chickadees are very vocal as they call to their mate to announce their find of food or a warning. Because chickadees generally do not migrate, they are good at finding food sources and other birds such as nuthatches, kinglets and woodpeckers sometimes join them in foraging for food. They have particularly strong legs that let them hang upside down while searching for food.
Black-capped and Carolina chickadees are the two most common chickadees that feed at feeders. They look virtually identical so you need to know their range to identify them. Mountain chickadees are less common at feeders and often forage at the tops of trees for spiders and larvae. Chestnut-back chickadees also forage high in trees and spend quite a bit of time upside down in search of food.
Chickadees are bold birds and are easy to attract to feeders. Their favorite food is oil sunflower seeds, though they will readily eat striped sunflower seeds, peanuts and suet. To attract chickadees, try the WBU Seed Tube Feeder, the cling-a-wing or a WBU Peanut Feeder.