Black-Capped Chickadee

Poecile atricapillus
Range Map

These birds are nonmigratory. Their expected range stretches over much of North America, from central and southern Alaska, across the southern half of Canada to the Atlantic coast. The southern end of their range is from Oregon, Idaho, northern Utah, Colorado, and across the Great Plains through the Ohio Valley, the Appalachians, and New England. The maps I reviewed showed northern New Mexico as the southern limit of their range, but I met them on several occasions along the Rio Grande near Albuquerque.

Similar to other members of the chickadee clan, the Black-Capped Chickadee’s plaintiff “Hey Sweetie” song is a fond reminder of the woodlands they love. Well known and beloved for their bold nature and curiosity, many people have tempted these cute little bundles of energy to take food from their hands.

Science recognises seven subspecies of Black-Capped Chickadee:

  • P. a. bartletti lives in Canada’s Maritime Provinces.
  • P. a. atricapillus lives from southeastern Manitoba through central Quebec to Maritime Provinces and south to central Kansas and Missouri, to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and south along Appalachian Mountains to North Carolina.
  • P. a. septentrionalis lives from southern Yukon (Canada) and through most of British Columbia east to central Manitoba, and eastern slopes of the Cascades, to southern Oregon, central Idaho, northern Montana, and south, east of the Rocky Mountains, to central Colorado and Kansas.
  • P. a. garrinus lives in the Rocky Mountain region from central Idaho, and south-central Montana south to southern Utah and northern New Mexico.
  • P. a. nevadensis lives in the Great Basin from southeastern Oregon and southern Idaho, and south to northern Nevada.
  • P. a. occidentalis lives on the Pacific slope of British Columbia to northern California.
  • P. a. turneri lives in south-central Alaska.

In my travels, I’ve had the pleasure of their company on the northern California and Oregon coast, in Alberta (Canada), in New Mexico, Montana, and Wyoming. My first meeting with the Black-Capped Chickadee was in Jackson Wyoming, and the image I captured on film helped convince me to pursue bird photography seriously.

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