Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-Capped Chickadee, Poecile atricapillus

The state bird of both Maine and Massachusetts, as well as official bird of New Brunswick, the black-capped chickadee is one of the most prevalent songbirds to brave the Minnesota winter. While their diet consists primarily of insects most of the year, in winter they need all the extra energy they can get, so berries and seeds and suet make up much more of their diet. They don’t just gorge at feeders, though—these little birds have fantastic memories, and they will sneak food and hide it for later. A single chickadee may cache as many as 100,000 food items a year—almost all in different locations, and never reusing a hiding spot. Imagine hiding a mere 100 cookies throughout your house and remembering where they all were over the course of the next month—while simultaneously hiding a second batch of cookies after the first week, and a third batch after the second week, and so on for a year, keeping track of every single location without ever reusing a hiding place. You would have kept track of 5,200 cookies (though if poorly hidden, may have been been able to retrieve them all, thanks to poaching by family members). Chickadees manage nearly twenty times that.

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