Black-capped Chickadee

So there’s a thing about North American Chickadees. Their ranges overlap very slightly, and they rarely cross the line. In North Carolina we have Carolina Chickadees, but further north there are Black-capped Chickadees. They’re about equally cute, and look similar enough that the surest way to tell them apart is by where you’re standing or by their songs, which are a little different.

The geographic line between the two species is pretty far north of North Carolina. I was once in Dayton, OH, visiting a friend, and one of the things I hoped to see was a Black-capped Chickadee. Now, when I go birding, I almost never go looking for a particular bird. I just go places, and shoot whatever birds I see there. But for some reason, I just really wanted to see a Black-capped Chickadee.

It turns out that Dayton is still south of the very crooked species line, and I didn’t get to go further north to go see my bird. But on the way back home, I realized that the species line takes a serious southerly dip along the tops of the Appalachian mountains, and that Interstate 81 crosses the mountains through Black-capped territory. I found a park on the map near the top of the mountains, and considered it. I’d have to go about 30 kilometers out of the way, 60 round-trip, to get there. It was drizzling rain. I might go all that way and get nothing.

I didn’t decide whether to do it or not until the exit came up, and the allure was just too strong. I took the exit and headed for the park.

It took about an hour, but eventually a little flock of Black-cappeds came my way, and I managed one shitty shot before the downpour chased me back to my car. Welp, one shitty shot is better than none, I suppose.

But New Hampshire is well north of the species line, and I’ll admit I used my phone to play Black-capped Chickadee songs from Cornell’s Ornithology Lab to get what I’d wanted for so long.

I feel pretty accomplished.

 

Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee