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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jet black caps

I really like chickadees, but they're tough to photograph!  They're small, always on the move, and often hidden behind branches or leaves (at least whenever I try to take a picture of them).

The Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) pictured above was photographed near Rexhame Beach in Massachusetts on 23 December 2012.

After living in California for 8 years, and spending time with Chestnut-backed Chickadees (Poecile rufescens), I'm struck by the size difference between the two species.

Chestnut-backed Chickadees are the smallest of the 7 species of chickadees in North America.  They range from ~100-120 mm long, while Black-capped Chickadees measure ~123-145 mm long.

I still don't have great photos of Chestnut-backed Chickadees, but here are couple from Bodega Bay (below).  In the first image you can just barely see a hint of the chestnut color, but the second image shows off the chestnut on the back and along the sides.  (Compare this with the gray on the back of the Black-capped Chickadee above.)

Are you curious about the other 5 species of chickadees?  They include Boreal, Carolina, Gray-headed, Mexican, and Mountain chickadees.

Here's a little quiz — In which state can you see 5 species of chickadees?  (The answer is at the bottom of this post.)

Whichever species you encounter, it's always fun to watch these bright-eyed and energetic songbirds.

P.S.  Answer to quiz above: Alaska!  The five species of chickadees in Alaska include Black-capped, Boreal, Chestnut-backed, Gray-headed, and Mountain.

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