The loveable chickadee is named for its alarm call

Whenever I'm in the Rocky Mountains of northwest Colorado, I'm always delighted to be in the presence of not just one species of chickadee, but two — the ubiquitous black-capped chickadee, which range across all of North America, and the not-so-common mountain chickadee, which occurs in mountainous habitats of the West.

One popular field guidebook of birds that I frequently use, notes that of the seven species of chickadees that occur in North America, only the black-capped chickadee and mountain chickadee occur in the same year-around habitat together. Another field guidebook relates that only in mountain habitats of the northwest do more than one species occur together.

I'd argue that boreal chickadees, a species restricted to boreal forests of the far north in Canada and Alaska, including in a northern sphere of Minnesota, also occupy the same habitat from time to time with black-capped chickadees, and in fact they do, according to some sources.

The remaining four North American species of chickadees include the Carolina, Mexican, Siberian tit, and chestnut-backed.

Chickadees as a whole are very similar in appearance and size to each other, yet all are subtly different from one another in plumage coloration and markings, in addition to notable differences in vocalizations. Obvious differences also include habitat and geography. Yet, from this continent's northernmost reaches to its southern extent, as well as from east to west, there exists a species of chickadee for everyone to enjoy.

All chickadees share a similar trait — their propensity of being a relatively tame wild bird. Few birds exist that allow our close contact. The skittish blue jay, for example, though attracted to our backyard bird feeding stations, will scatter at the mere sight or sound of us, yet birds like chickadees don't seem to care whether we're near or far. 

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