Song of the Chickadee


That’s the song of the North American Black Capped Chickadee, right?

WRONG! According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this is actually an alarm call\, alerting other Chickadees to a threat. You can tell how threatened they feel by the number of “Dees.”

Alternately, when a Chickadee perceives a fast-moving threat, such as an approaching hawk, she’ll give out a single, high-pitched, SEE…

And all chickadees within earshot freeze! Then they listen for the all-clear, which is a short Chick-a-Dee-Dee! 

If you see a Chickadee when you hear one of these calls, watch the behavior that follows. If he flies off, that’s probably in response to the all-clear.

Chipper here, however, is singing none of the above. The Black Capped Chickadee song is a sweet, sing-song, high-to-low perfect third: Fee-bee! Fee-bee! Sometimes they add a third note, which is usually described by humans as Hey, Swee-tie!

In the Pacific Northwest, Chickadees sing four notes, all on a single pitch: Sweet, Swee-tie Sweet! 

Throughout much of the Black Capped Chickadee range, according to Cornell Labs, the males start singing this song in January, increasing in frequency as Spring approaches. Once in a while, females will sing too.

Finally, if you see two Chickadees at your feeder, you may hear a throaty, guttural squawl! This social call often happens when a “beta” Chickadee muscles into an “alpha” bird’s space. But you may also hear this gargling sound between mating pairs—even devoted couples argue!

If you want to hear these sounds, I highly recommend the Cornell Lab of Ornithology web page or better still, download their free app for iPhone or iPad. There is also a great paid app for Android, iPhone and iPad called iBird Pro for Birds North America. I paid the $14.99 because its enormous database of photos and sound files is well worth it.

Chipper, the Chickadee shown in the photographs here, is singing Fee-Bee! Hey Swee-tee! He turns as he sings, perhaps to increase his likelihood of being heard. Which view of Chipper do YOU prefer? Please let me know with a COMMENT and if this post pleases you, don’t forget to give me a LIKE.

Tap this link to shop the ArthurPix® Store for paper prints, canvas and metal wall-hanging, coffee mugs, iPhone cases and other cool keepsakes bearing my featured photograph, above


Second in a collection of 4 original photographs. Tap here to shop the ArthurPix® Store for prints and keepsakes bearing this photograph.
Third in a collection of four. Tap here to shop the ArthurPix® Store for prints and custom keepsakes.
Fourth in a collection of 4 photographs. Tap here to shop the ArthurPix®Store for prints and custom keepsakes.



Leave a Reply