The black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) is a common bird in many parts of North America, coast to coast from Alaska to Georgia. They’re one of the birds that don’t migrate, staying in their home territory year-round.
Read about the 10 best ways to keep these perky little birds happy all year long!
1. Feed Black-Capped Chickadees With Seeds, Suet & Peanuts!
Black-capped chickadees need a steady supply of food in cold weather, so if you provide them with their favorite treats, you should get to see these charming birds in your yard all through the winter months.
Seeds are among the best choices for them. They love sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and Nyjer seeds.
They also appreciate a supply of suet. If you have trouble keeping squirrels and chipmunks from gobbling up this fatty winter food, try melting down the suet and adding some hot pepper powder to the mix, and then pour it back into its mold to solidify.
Birds are unaffected by peppers, but they’ll burn the mouths of any mammals that try to eat the suet cake.
Finally, if you really want to make these chickadees happy, give them shelled peanuts or even gobs of peanut butter!
2. Serve Seeds Up In The Right Feeders
Black-capped chickadee food will be best served in certain types of feeders.
Because they are so small, they will be able to get into cage-style feeders where bigger birds can’t fit. This can give them a safe space to feed without getting bullied away.
Finch feeders are also ideal for the chickadees; fill a tube with Nyjer seed. They won’t have a lot of competition at those feeders and the high-quality seeds are very nutritious.
Finally, these chickadees are very comfortable eating from platform feeders.
If you have concerns about squirrels or large bully birds like cowbirds crowding out chickadees, you can buy one which will close up when a heavier creature tries to grab some food.
3. Mealworms Will Bring Black-Capped Chickadees In
Black-capped chickadees are insect eaters, too, and in cold weather, they’ll be thrilled to get some mealworms.
You can raise your own, or buy live or dried ones to add protein to the chickadees’ winter diet.
4. Fruiting Trees And Shrubs For Berries
Black-capped chickadees also eat fruit, so planting fruiting trees and shrubs will give them another source of food all year round.
Many native shrubs and trees hold their berries through the winter months, providing lots of different birds with fruit in cold weather.
Serviceberries, American cranberries, and bayberries are all good choices.
5. Bird Baths Are Magnets For Black-Capped Chickadees
Black-capped chickadees will really like a backyard with a year-round bird bath. Look for one with a shallow bowl, and consider adding a layer of pebbles in one part of it to make sure these little birds are not in water that’s too deep.
Get a solar-powered fountain or bubbler for warm weather, and a heating element to keep the water open in the winter.
6. Provide Black-Capped Chickadees With Perches
Black-capped chickadees prefer to grab a seed and fly off to a perch to finish eating it.
If you have trees or bushes with branches to perch on, that’s great; otherwise, consider installing some artificial perches for them close to the feeders.
7. Birdhouses And Dead Trees Will Encourage Them To Nest
Because they are cavity dwellers, black-capped chickadees will need either dead wood suitable for nesting in, or you can install birdhouses for them to build their nests in.
If you set up more than 1 birdhouse, make sure that you set them at least 650 feet apart to satisfy their territorial needs.
8. Provide Black-Capped Chickadees With Nesting Material
Make establishing a nest as easy as possible for black-capped chickadees by leaving nesting materials where they can find them.
Stuff a suet feeder or a plastic netting bag with pet hair, scraps of fabric, and string, and hang it out close to nesting boxes or feeders.
9. Trees And Shrubs For Their Winter Shelter
Black-capped chickadees need lots of natural cover from predators all year, as well as protection from cold winds in winter.
Plant a variety of native shrubs and trees, both deciduous and evergreen, so that they will have a haven from attack.
10. Go Pesticide-Free So They Will Have Insects In Summer
Black-capped chickadees eat a lot of insects in summer, especially caterpillars. To both keep a plentiful supply of their favorite bugs and not endanger their health with chemicals, avoid using pesticides.
Once you have a large population of birds on your property, they’ll help to keep your insect pests under control!