Poecile atricapillus - (Linnaeus, 1766)
Black-capped Chickadee
Other English Common Names: black-capped chickadee
Synonym(s): Parus atricapillus ;Poecile atricapilla (Linnaeus, 1766)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Poecile atricapillus (Linnaeus, 1766) (TSN 554382)
French Common Names: mésange à tête noire
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.105569
Element Code: ABPAW01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Perching Birds
Image 10989

© Jeff Nadler

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Passeriformes Paridae Poecile
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 2000. Forty-second supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds. The Auk 117:847-858
Concept Reference Code: A00AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Poecile atricapilla
Taxonomic Comments: Formerly in genus Parus but transferred to Poecile by AOU (1997); subsequently endings of Atricapillus and Practicus were feminized to Atricapillus and Practica to agree with feminine Poecile (AOU 2000). See DeBenedictis (1987, Birding 19:42-45) for review of hybridization between P. carolinensis and P. atricapilla; the two taxa hybridize freely wherever they meet and easily could be regarded as conspecific. P. atricapilla exhibits little mtDNA genetic differentiation throughout the previously glaciated continental distribution; in general, mtDNA variation corresponds only weakly with subspecies designations; Newfoundland populations have distinct mtDNA haplotypes that differ from continental haplotypes by single restriction site changes (Gill et al. 1993). Phylogenetic analyses indicate that North American chickadees comprise two clades, P. hudsonica-rufescens-sclateri versus P. carolinesis-atricapilla-gambeli, and that P. carolinesis and P. atricapilla are not sister species (Gill et al. 1993). See Sheldon et al. (1992) for DNA-DNA hybridization evidence of phylogenetic relationships among major lineages of Parus.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 09Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 02Dec1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (02Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alaska (S5), Arizona (S1N), California (S3), Colorado (S5), Connecticut (S5), District of Columbia (S1N), Idaho (S4), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4), Iowa (S5B), Kansas (S5), Maine (S5), Maryland (S4), Massachusetts (S5), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (SNR), Missouri (SNR), Montana (S5), Navajo Nation (S2N), Nebraska (S5), Nevada (S4S5), New Hampshire (S5), New Jersey (S4B,S4N), New Mexico (S3B,S4N), New York (S5), North Carolina (S3), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (S5), Oregon (S5), Pennsylvania (S5), Rhode Island (S5B), South Dakota (S5B,S5N), Tennessee (S2B), Utah (S5), Vermont (S5), Virginia (S5), Washington (S5), West Virginia (S5B,S5N), Wisconsin (S5B), Wyoming (S5B,S5N)
Canada Alberta (S5), British Columbia (S5B), Labrador (S2), Manitoba (S5), New Brunswick (S5), Newfoundland Island (S5), Northwest Territories (S4S5), Nova Scotia (S5), Ontario (S5), Prince Edward Island (S5), Quebec (S5), Saskatchewan (S5), Yukon Territory (S4)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: This species is resident from western and central Alaska eastward across central and southern Canada to Newfoundland, and south to northwestern California, southern Utah, central New Mexico, Kansas, central Missouri, central Indiana, and northern New Jersey, and at higher elevations to the southern Appalachians (AOU 1998). Wanders irregularly south in winter.

Short-term Trend Comments: Breeding Bird Survey data indicate a significant population increase in North America between 1966 and 1989 (Droege and Sauer 1990).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: This species is resident from western and central Alaska eastward across central and southern Canada to Newfoundland, and south to northwestern California, southern Utah, central New Mexico, Kansas, central Missouri, central Indiana, and northern New Jersey, and at higher elevations to the southern Appalachians (AOU 1998). Wanders irregularly south in winter.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NN, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: WILDSPACETM 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AZ Apache (04001), Coconino (04005)*, Navajo (04017)*
ID Ada (16001), Bannock (16005), Blaine (16013), Cassia (16031), Franklin (16041), Kootenai (16055), Latah (16057), Lemhi (16059), Nez Perce (16069), Owyhee (16073), Shoshone (16079)
NC Avery (37011), Buncombe (37021)*, Caldwell (37027), Haywood (37087), Jackson (37099), Swain (37173), Transylvania (37175), Watauga (37189), Yancey (37199)*
NE Dodge (31053)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Upper Catawba (03050101)+
06 Watauga (06010103)+, Upper French Broad (06010105)+, Pigeon (06010106)+, Lower French Broad (06010107)+*, Nolichucky (06010108)+*, Watts Bar Lake (06010201)+*, Tuckasegee (06010203)+
10 Lower Platte (10200202)+
14 Chinle (14080204)+*
15 Little Colorado headwaters (15020001)+, Canyon Diablo (15020015)+*, Moenkopi Wash (15020018)+*
16 Middle Bear (16010202)+
17 Upper Coeur D'alene (17010301)+, Coeur D'alene Lake (17010303)+, Portneuf (17040208)+, Raft (17040210)+, Upper Snake-Rock (17040212)+, Little Wood (17040221)+, Middle Owyhee (17050107)+, Boise-Mores (17050112)+, Lemhi (17060204)+, Lower Salmon (17060209)+, Clearwater (17060306)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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General Description: Black cap and throat, white cheeks, buffy flanks, and white-edged wing feathers. Length 13 cm, wingspan 21 cm.
Diagnostic Characteristics: The amount of white on the outer edge of the greater coverts is the best character for distinguishing PARUS ATRICAPILLUS and P. CAROLINENSIS in the field, but birds in the contact zone may not be identified with certainty (Robbins 1989).
Reproduction Comments: Nesting phenology varies geographically. Examples of known egg dates include: late April to mid-June in Illinois; early May to mid-July in Massachusetts; late May to early June in Nova Scotia; mid-April to late June in Oregon; and mid-April to early July in Michigan. Clutch size is 5-10 (usually 6-8). Incubation lasts usually 12-13 days. Young are tended by both parents, fledge 12-16 days after hatching. Initially fledglings are fed by their parents, disperse usually 3-4 weeks after fledging. Pairbond may persist over several years.
Ecology Comments: In Massachusetts, once they became breeders, males lived an average of 3.2 years, females lived an average of 2.5 years (Smith 1995, Auk 112:840-846). In Alberta, winter survival rates were higher in a food-supplemented area than in a control area, but breeding densities in the two areas were similar (Desrochers et al. 1988). In Pennsylvania, supplemental food appeared to influence movements more so than it did winter survival, but in Wisconsin there was evidence that bird feeders influenced actual survival rates (Egan and Brittingham 1994).

In southwestern Alberta, territory size averaged about 8-9 ha, overlapped with territories of mountain chickadee (Hill and Lein 1989).

In cold winter weather, black-capped chickadees may undergo regulated hypothermia, which saves them significant amounts of energy. They also store food and may roose communally in tree cavities, thus minimizing heat loss.

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Old field, Shrubland/chaparral, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Standing snag/hollow tree
Habitat Comments: Black-capped chickadees inhabit deciduous and mixed deciduous/coniferous forest and woodland, willow thickets, cottonwood groves, old fields, and wooded suburban areas. Nests are in cavities dug by both sexes in trees, especially dead trees or rotten branches, sometimes in existing natural cavities, old woodpecker holes, bird boxes, or similar sites (Grubb and Bronson 1995, Condor 97:1067-1070).
Adult Food Habits: Frugivore, Granivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Frugivore, Granivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats mainly insects and other small invertebrates, and their eggs and immature stages, and seeds and fruits; forages mainly on woody twigs, branches, and stems (Terres 1980).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 13 centimeters
Weight: 11 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Management Requirements: See Mitchell (1988) for specifications for the construction and placement of nest boxes.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Passerines

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Nest Site, Nesting Colony
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Mapping Guidance: Breeding occurrences include nesting areas as well as foraging areas.

For swallows and other species that have separate nesting and foraging areas, separations are based on nest sites or nesting areas, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap larger than the separation distance are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Mean foraging radius (from nesting area) of Brown-headed Cowbird females was 4.0 kilometers in California, 1.2 kilometers in Illinois-Missouri (Thompson 1994). Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Brewer's Blackbirds, and probably Red-winged Blackbirds all forage up to 1.6 kilometers away from breeding colony (Willson 1966, Horn 1968). In one study, Brewer's Blackbirds were found as far as 10 kilometers from nesting area (Williams 1952), but this may be unusual.

For swallows and other parrerines with similar behavioral ecology, separation distance pertains to nest sites or nesting colonies, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap of more than 5 km are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Migratory stopover
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: For most passerines: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating individuals (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds in appropriate habitat.

For swallows: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating flocks (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 100 birds in appropriate habitat (e.g., traditional roost sites).

Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually.

EOs should not be described for species that are nomadic during nonbreeding season: e.g., Lark Bunting.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary but intended to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Any area used traditionally in the nonbreeding season (used for populations that are not resident in a location year-round). Minimally, reliable observations of 10 or more individuals in appropriate habitat for 20 or more days at a time. For G1-G3 species, observations of fewer individuals could constitute an occurrence of conservation value. Sites used during migration should be documented under the 'migratory stopover' location use class.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is necessarily arbitrary but attempts to balance the high mobility of birds with the need for occurrences of reasonable spatial scope. Note that a population's roost sites and foraging areas are parts of the same occurrence, even if they are more than 5 km apart.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Nonmigratory
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a particular location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in or near appropriate habitat.

These occurrence specifications are used for nonmigratory populations of passerine birds.

Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and breeding-season foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Blue jays have small summer home ranges but fly up to 4 kilometers to harvest mast (Tarvin and Woolfenden 1999). Flocks of pinyon jays range over 21-29 square kilometers (Ligon 1971, Balda and Bateman 1971); nesting and foraging areas may be widely separated. Tricolored blackbirds forage in flocks that range widely to more than 15 kilometers from the nesting colony (Beedy and Hamilton 1999).

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: These specs pertain to nonmigratory species.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 29Jan2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 29Jan2010
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Bent, A.C. 1946. Life histories of North American jays, crows, and titmice. U.S. Natl. Mus. Bull. 191. Washington, D.C.

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  • Desrochers, A., S. J. Hannon, and K. E. Nordin. 1988. Winter survival and territory acquisition in a northern population of black-capped chickadees. Auk 105:727-736.

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  • Erskine, A. J. 1992. Atlas of breeding birds of the Maritime Provinces. Nimbus Publishing and the Nova Scotia Museum, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

  • Gill, F. B., A. M. Mostrom, and A. L. Mack. 1993. Speciation in North American chickadees: I. Patterns of mtDNA genetic divergence. Evolution 47:195-212.

  • Godfrey, W. E. 1986. The birds of Canada. Revised edition. National Museum of Natural Sciences, Ottawa. 596 pp. + plates.

  • Green, J. C. and R. B. Janssen. 1975. Minnesota birds: where, when and how many. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 217 pp.

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Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

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Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

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IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/birdDistributionmapsmetadatav1.pdf.

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/mammalsDistributionmetadatav1.pdf.

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