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Chickadees in Winter

How these tiny birds manage to survive!

How do Black-capped Chickadees manage to survive the rigors of winter at high latitudes? For survival, chickadees have three things going for them: they're insulated, they're active, and they have a good memory. Thanks to a half-inch coat of feathers, the Black-capped Chickadee maintains its body temperature at 100 degrees Fahrenheit, even when the air is 0 degrees. Learn more about feeding chickadees and other birds at Audubon.org.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 
BirdNote®
Chickadees in Winter

Written by Dennis Paulson

This is BirdNote!
[Black-capped Chickadee calls]
These Black-capped Chickadees are familiar birds all across northern North America. Common even in winter, more than a thousand were tallied on a recent Christmas Bird Count in Fairbanks, Alaska. Chickadees are tiny birds, weighing less than a half ounce. How can such a fragile creature survive the rigors of winter at high latitudes? [Howling of wind]
For winter survival, chickadees have three things going for them: they’re insulated, they’re active, and they have a good memory.
Thanks to a half-inch coat of insulating feathers, chickadees maintain their body temperature at 100° Fahrenheit during daylight hours, even when the air is at zero degrees. At night, their temperature drops 18 degrees, which reserves their store of fat.
Also, chickadees gather food at a terrific rate. In autumn, they stash their winter sustenance all around their territory. Their good memories enable them to find this food when the days are short and cold. It’s not surprising that the part of the brain associated with spatial memory is larger in chickadees than in many other birds.
[Black-capped Chickadee calls]
If you’d like to feed the chickadees that live near you – you’ll find tips stashed at our website, birdnote.org [Black-capped Chickadee calls]
And you can pick up next year’s calendar, too!
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
[Black-capped Chickadee calls]
###
Black-capped Chickadee call provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by R.S. Little and S.R. Pantle.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2011 Tune In to Nature.org      December 2011     Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#  122706BCCH3KPLU   BCCH-04b

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