Black-capped Chickadee (Photo: Alan D. Wilson / Wikimedia)

Black-capped Chickadee

Look For

All of our common chickadees have black caps, but only this one is called black-capped. Black-cappeds tend to look bigger headed and chunkier than Carolinas. 5 ¼ inches is the normal length of a black-capped chickadee. 

The white edges of the secondary wing feathers form a hockey stick of white when the wings are folded. Remember the three Bs of the clack-capped chickadee: they are Bigger headed, Buffier colored, and have Bolder white edges on their wings.

Listen For

Black-cappeds have a slower, harsher, and lower-pitched chickadee-dee-dee call than the Carolina. Song is usually a two-part fee-beee!

Find It

In areas of overlap with the Carolina chickadee, black-cappeds are found at higher elevations. In some winters, black-cappeds are found south of their normal range. They prefer mixed woods but are regulars at feeders.

Feeding Behavior

Black-capped chickadees have significantly different diets during the winter and breeding seasons. In the winter, half of their diet consists of insects and spiders while the other half is seeds and berries. 

During breeding season, the majority of their diet is caterpillars and then the remainder is seeds and fruit. You will rarely find a black-capped chickadee foraging for food on the ground; instead they forage in trees using five major techniques. These techniques are hawking, hovering, probing, hanging, and gleaning.

Nesting Behavior

The black-capped chickadee is a cavity nester who prefers birch trees and birdhouses. Both sexes excavate their natural nesting site while the female exclusively constructs the nest with materials like moss, rabbit fur, and deer fur. 

Once the eggs are laid, incubation lasts almost two weeks. Young black-cappeds fledge after 16 days but remain with adults for up to four weeks.


Studies have shown that chickadees actually grow extra brain cells to help them remember where they have cached seeds.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *