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Songbirds of North Dakota


Family Paridae

Chickadees belong to the family Paridae which also includes the titmice. Overall, there are 10 North American species in the family Paridae. Most of these birds are small, curious, and relatively tame in the presence of man. Only one species is seen in North Dakota and that is the black-capped chickadee.

Black-Capped Chickadee
Parus atricapillus

JPG -- Picture and Range Map of Species

The black-capped chickadee is justifiably named by its pronounced black head contrasted by its white cheeks and bib. The male and female look alike and have a short bill and relatively long, gray tail. The overall length of the bird is under 6 inches. It is a bird which prefers mixed hardwood and coniferous forests, woodland tree groves, and shrubbery. In North Dakota, it is common year round along the riparian forests associated with rivers and streams and in the ash/cedar woodlands of the badlands. The black-capped chickadee's song, from which it gets its name, is a good identifying characteristic (chicka-dee-dee-dee). Chickadees forage over twigs and under tree bark for insect eggs, ants, beetles and caterpillars. They will also eat wild fruit and can be lured to feeders by providing sunflower seeds or suet. Anyone who has hunted in the woods has probably experienced a chickadee within close proximity. These birds are cavity nesters, meaning they utilize a hollow of a rotting tree to lay their 5-7 white eggs that are dotted with brown.

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