Black-capped Chickadee

Poecile atricapillus

Physical description 4

Black-capped chickadees have short plump bodies, a solid black cap and bib, and white cheeks. They are a small bird weighing only 11 g and measuring 13.3 cm in length. Their wingspans measure 20.3 cm in flight. Their backs and wings are dark greenish-gray, with some streaks of white and black adorning the wing feathers. Their bellies are white with a light-reddish color on the flanks. They have small, pointed black beaks and dark legs. Male and female chickadees are identical.

Young black-capped chickadees resemble adults, but have brighter colors with more reddish coloration on the flanks.

Average mass: 11 g.

Average length: 13.3 cm.

Average wingspan: 20.3 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

Average mass: 10.4 g.

Average basal metabolic rate: 0.252 W.

Concerns 5

In the states of Alaska and Washington, and in parts of western Canada, black-capped chickadees are among a number of bird species affected by an unknown agent that is causing beak deformities which may cause stress for affected species by inhibiting feeding ability, mating, and grooming. Black-capped chickadees were the first affected bird species, with reports of the deformity beginning in Alaska in the late 1990s, but more recently the deformity has been observed in close to 30 bird species in the affected areas.

Metabolism 5

On cold winter nights, these birds can reduce their body temperature by as much as 10 to 12°C (from their normal temperature of about 42 °C) to conserve energy. Such a capacity for torpor is not very common in birds. Other bird species capable of torpor include the common swiftApus apus, the common poor-willPhalaenoptilus nuttallii, the lesser nighthawkChordeiles acutipennis, and various species of hummingbirds.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Jeff Whitlock, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  2. (c) Kelly Colgan Azar, some rights reserved (CC BY-ND),
  3. (c) Shandi-lee Cox, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND),
  4. (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  5. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),

More Info

Range Map

iNatCA Map

Color black, grey, white
Animal Bird
Bird Paridae (chickadee)