Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Always a Favorite

No matter how many rare or exquisitely beautiful birds I see, I never lose affection for the Black-capped Chickadees. I love their velvety black caps and bibs, their pewter and white back and wings, their tiny black legs and feet, their curiosity, and the way they boss the other birds about, even some that are much larger. They are relatively unafraid of people; when I go out to refill the feeders or look at something interesting in the yard, they come quite near, sometimes within a foot or two, scolding me with their little nasal dee dee dee dee calls.

A small flock of these endearing little birds comes to our feeders every day. Here’s one that came by during last week's snow:

Henry David Thoreau loved chickadees, too. He wrote about them often in his Journal, such as in these two winter entries:

As I stand by the hemlocks, I am greeted by the lively and unusually prolonged tche de de de de de of a little flock of chickadees. The snow has ceased falling, the sun comes out, and it is warm and still, and this flock of chickadees, little birds that perchance were born in their midst, feeling the influences of this genial season, have begun to flit amid the snow-covered fans of the hemlocks, jarring down the snow, - for there are hardly bare twigs enough for them to rest on, - or they plume themselves in some snug recess on the sunny side of the tree, only pausing to utter their tche de de de. (January 12, 1860)

…The little chickadees love to skulk amid [the seed-laden weeds] and peep out from behind them. I hear their faint, silvery, lisping notes, like tinkling glass, and occasionally a sprightly day-day-day, as they inquisitively hop nearer and nearer to me. They are our most honest and innocent little bird, drawing yet nearer to us as the winter advances, and deserve best of any of the walker. (December 1, 1853)

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