Yoopers and the black-capped chickadee

ESCANABA — Let’s talk about our little friend.

At his time of the year, the black-capped chickadee is a friend to everyone in the north country.

His cheery chirping and positive attitude, even when it’s well below zero, make him a welcomed guest at everybody’s bird feeder or backyard.

We have a lot in common with the chickadee especially in the winter time. In fact Yoopers and chickadees look quite a bit alike in the winter months.

We have much in common!

Like the chickadee, most of us are nonmigratory creatures. We are here year round, so we need to know how to make the best of winter.

We dress for the weather. Our little friend wears a black cap and so do we don a favorite winter cap. Be it a Stormy Kromer or a woolen chook, most of us serious outdoors people have favorite head gear.

There’s no denying that the plump and fluffy looking chickadee is cute. With its sooty black eyes and delicate beak, this tiny bird almost seems to smile.

We are kind of pleasant looking too. We have that fluffy round look dressed in our winter long johns, flannels, sweaters and winter coats.

The chickadee puffs up his cream colored feathers to stay warm. We put on our goose down lined parkas.

Like the chickadee we smile even if snow covers our whole world.

Chickadees live in flocks. They eat together, often visiting bird feeders, and they fly together and have fun. Some chickadees are the dominant ones that act as leaders of the group.

We are like that too. Every small town in the U.P. has a few dominant ones govern and direct the rest of us.

Anyone who has ever fed birds in the winter knows the sound of the chickadee. Each flock of these birds has distinctive calls. They talk, chatter and even have a distress call to warn other birds of danger! And they don’t even need cell phones.

We humans are very social and love to converse too.

The eagle may be our national bird and the robin our state bird, but the chickadee is one of our favorite birds. There is something about its peaceful nature and its plain ordinary looks that appeal to us.

The little bird seems content with every day and happy to wait out old man winter.

It’s hard to imagine how this small bird stays alive when it is ten below zero. A few of his tricks are roosting in tree cavities and the ability to reduce their body temperature on cold winter nights.

Chickadees like most of us, like trees. In fact they need trees, older trees, to nest in. They are cavity-nesters and build nest inside holes in trees.

The black-capped chickadee is the state bird of Maine and Massachusetts.

He is a welcomed friend around almost everyone’s home or camp because besides seeds, chickadees eat a lot of insects. Some chickadees live to be ten or more years old.

So put out a handful of sunflower seeds or a bag of suet and talk to the chickadees. The winter won’t seem so long that way!

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