Bird of the Week

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the black-capped chickadee.
These guys are kind of like our unofficial winter spirit bird. They stay close, feeding in forests, backyards and at our feeders, never abandoning us for climes further south where conditions may be more favorable. They stick it out.
We have two different species of chickadee here in southwest Colorado: the black-capped and the mountain. Both are likely to be seen in and around our region, but don some different field marks and characteristics. Small and rotund, the black-capped has a distinct black head with white slashes on the cheeks. The breast is generally a buffier white color with some tinges of brown. The mountain chickadee species also has a black head and white cheeks, but this species has a definitive white supercilium, or eyebrow line, that carries from the base of the bill arching over its eye. Both species have black, somewhat stubby, bills designed for specialized seed extraction and small insect predation.
The mountain chickadee tends to stay more in conifer forests, leaving deciduous and pine/oak mixed stands to their cousin, the black- capped. Both rely on tree cavities for nesting sites, compliments of our many woodpecker species.
As for songs and calls, the black-capped has a two-note song that has been likened to “cheeseburger”; in contrast, the mountain has one additional note at the beginning. Calls sound more like their name, “chickadee-dee-dee,” with increasing “dee” notes if predators loom.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit and