Rockjumper Tours

aba events

I Brake for Chickadees

Chickadee, carolina beanery cm nj oct 2 2010 DPF_9294Carolina Chickadees got me my year Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, and Black-and-white Warbler – and that was only today!

Forest birds are distributed patchily across the landscape, and particularly when dealing with migrants, you often travel through extensive BFZ's (Bird Free Zones) between patches with birds. Paying special attention when chickadees are around helps narrow the search. Black-capped, Carolina and Chestnut-backed Chickadees are catalysts for mixed-species foraging flocks, and during migration birders can hardly do better than hang out with them. [This seems less true with Boreal Chickadee, and I lack sufficient experience to know whether migrants glom onto Mountain Chickadees. Reader insights are welcome!] My oft-voiced rule while leading field trips at migration hotspots like Higbee Beach is to "never walk away from a chickadee."

Never drive past one, either. This spring migration I'm confined to my truck thanks to recent knee surgery. Trying to find arriving migrant woodland birds  by vehicle in an extensive, somewhat uniform landscape like Cape May's Belleplain State Forestis a bit daunting, because you can't hear or see nearly as well from inside I car, and there's too much habitat to cover to just stop anywhere. 

Luckily, chickadees are vocal. Driving around Belleplain, whenever I hear a Carolina Chickadee, I pull off and kill the engine. After listening passively for a bit, I try some pishing, right from the car (this can work great, with the car working as a blind). Often a migrant associating with the chickadee flock will come in silently or sing in response to pishing, and if your pishing gets the chickadee flock riled up, their antics will virtually always bring the migrants for a look. Today's Blue-headed Vireo never made a sound but came right in, the Black-and-white sang of its own volition after a period of passive listening, and the gnatcatcher, being a gnatcatcher, immediately responded to my pishing and proceeded to mob my truck. None of these birds were in spots that looked different enough to stop "just because," but the word of a chickadee is good with me.

Facebooktwitter
The following two tabs change content below.
Don Freiday
I'm a freelance birder/naturalist/photographer living in Cape May, NJ. My professional experience includes 30+ years in the wildlife field, mostly involving education and interpretation, with several government agencies and NGO's. My hobbies include everything natural, especially birding; photography; training and hunting my Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Daniel Boone; fishing; canoeing and kayaking; camping; backpacking; and a little cooking. I blog about birds and nature at http://freidaybird.blogspot.com/ .
American Birding Podcast
Birders know well that the healthiest, most dynamic choruses contain many different voices. The birding community encompasses a wide variety of interests, talents, and convictions. All are welcome.
If you like birding, we want to hear from you.
Read More »

Categories

Authors

Archives

ABA's FREE Birder's Guide

via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Meet Adam Dhalla, 2018 ABA Young Birder of the Year March 27, 2018 5:42
    Meet 12-year-old Adam Dhalla from Coquitlam, British Columbia, one of the 2018 Young Birders of the Year! Want to learn more about how you could be the next Young Birder of the Year? Registration is open for the 2019 contest now! ——– Q: Were you a birder before you started the ABA Young […]
  • Open Mic: Birding Mentors Inspiring Young Minds March 6, 2018 6:42
    Texas young birder Sebastian Casarez talks about the importance of mentors to young birders. […]
  • Announcing the 2018 ABA Young Birders of the Year! February 16, 2018 3:07
    We are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2018 ABA Young Birder of the Year Contest! Congratulations to Teodelina Martelli and Adam Dhalla, as well all of this year's participants! […]

Follow ABA on Twitter