Want more birds in your yard? Bribe some chickadees.

a chickadee clings upside down to a leaf

Chickadees are a widespread number of species from the tit family in North America. They are frequent garden and feeder visitors, but more importantly, they are critical to the survival of migratory and resident birds! Chickadees live their lives in groups. Whether those groups are other chickadees or ten other species of birds, chickadees find safety and survival in numbers. Learn how to attract chickadees to your yard and why native birds will follow suit if chickadees begin partaking of your bird BnB!

a boreal chickadee pecks a seed

Chickadees are the cool birds on the block

Chickadees are the neighborhood watch for smaller birds in forested areas. These parids are efficient at alerting other birds to the presence of predators! Chickadees use a vast vocal repertoire to communicate within their flocks. They signal the location, direction, behavior, size, danger level, and subsequently coordinate the mobbing of predators. Additionally, they sound the "all-clear" when predators have moved on from the vicinity! These little parids yell at accipiters, give them the business, then alert the forest when the coast is clear. From personal experience, we can attest that a chickadee's bite is worse than its bark. Hawks beware. 

Not only do chickadees alert other chickadees to predators (while providing an entire Facebook profile on each predator), their calls extend to alerting to food sources. Studies from 2006 to 2012 indicate that chickadees use specific notes, in varying arrangements, to reveal the discovery of a new food source, such as your backyard bird feeder. Chickadees offer different alerts of this call to indicate if they are first to the feeder. This arrangement of a distinct set of notes provides information to their flock so they too can dine at this new bird restaurant. (You will want to be sure to get their five-star review.) Of course, other wild birds can recognize this pattern, too, if they have learned the ways of the chickadee. Hint, hint. Chickadees "tell" other birds when food is plentiful.

Why wouldn't you want to befriend a chickadee if you are a small bird? In fact, many bird species have learned to "understand" the chickadee language. This learned "translation" benefits other species by using the top natural alarm system in addition to a loud dinner bell. Learning chickadee is the IN thing for smaller birds.

Lure chickadees with a worm or two

black-capped chickadee sitting on a platform feeder

This Black-capped Chickadee is checking out the food offering from a Bird's Choice feeder.

Okay, worm is not the correct term. But in the summertime, caterpillars become over 90% of many chickadees' diets. Want to keep chickadees happy all summer? Plant native plants that provide habitat to native caterpillars. If you have a vegetable garden, you will be glad to have chickadees nesting nearby. A chickadee family can consume close to 10,000 caterpillars during a typical nesting season! Talk about pest control?!

Of course, we can apply the aforementioned chickadee alert system about food and realize that chickadees may provoke a rush to the smorgasbord of arthropods in a native plant garden. Though, during the breeding season, chickadees can be more aggressive to other birds. If you hear some chickadee scolding, do not be alarmed!

Home is where the chickadee is

a mountain chickadee peeks out from its cavity nest
A Mountain Chickadee exits its cavity nest.

Food is a great starting place to bribe chickadees to visit your greenspace. However, to keep them around permanently, you will need to provide a box-style, single-family home. We are talking nest boxes. Of course, if you plant native trees, chickadees will use natural cavities. However, suppose you just planted that little oak after reading our article on creating a bird-friendly home. In that case, it won't be large enough for chickadee nesting. Not to fear! Birds Choice has a variety of birdhouses measured just for your friendly neighborhood chickadee.

Improving the housing market for native species of birds can help to restore nesting opportunities that have been lost due to development. It is a simple way to help and attract those black-and-white beauties to your home.

Build a house for chickadees!

Help chickadees, help yourself

Yes, integrated pest control from these noisy neighbors will help your garden. But attracting chickadees and other birds to your yard has a demonstrated benefit to your mental and physical health. A study from 2017 found that vegetation cover and bird abundance were positively associated with lower rates of depression, anxiety, and stress. These researchers quantified the amount of vegetation needed to decrease each malady! Also, a 2020 study published in Ecological Economics showed a clear correlation between happiness and local bird diversity. They used their findings to calculate a "satisfaction value" for bird diversity. In their work, they state being near 14 bird species provided as much satisfaction as earning an extra $150 a month!

Surprised that chickadees can increase a figurative and literal value to your life? You are not alone!

Chickadees helping humans is nothing new. It is time to show some serious love back to chickadees and make this a two-way relationship. In many regions, chickadee populations are facing minor to severe decline. Drought is frequently offered as a leading cause for the decline of several chickadee species in the west. Humans can help to remedy drought by ditching water-sucking turf grasses for drought-resistant native plants. Reducing unnecessary water usage while providing habitat for native invertebrates can help buffer chickadees against hotter and drier years. Save money, save water, save chickadees. You can’t argue with that!!

If you live in water-challenged areas, providing a fresh, clean water source for chickadees can also lessen the impacts of water loss on local birds.

If you help chickadees, you will help yourself. It's simple. Be a good friend to the chickadee. They can provide pest control, water savings, mental health improvements, and increase your "bird income."

More Cheeeese-burg-er, please

Throughout much of North America, the chickadee is referred to as the "cheeseburger bird” due to their sweet, multi-note song that sounds like someone singing about an all-beef patty with special sauce. This is an excellent coincidence because many people in North America love cheeseburgers. Let's shift some meaty love to the cheeseburger bird's feathery love. We can easily create space for chickadees in our backyards, helping to uplift this beneficial bird. Once we have lured the chickadees in, we will begin to reap the benefits of having good neighbors. Oh, and these cheeseburgers might even be doctor-approved.

a carolina chickadee is perched in a tree

Did it sound like a chickadee wrote this article? Maybe they did. Now go feed them.