Song Birds - Sounds Wild
Chickadees 2



On a dark, cold January day in Fairbanks, a cheerful sound drifts across Creamer's Field. It's the song of a black capped chickadee. And it's not just any song, it's the mating song of the male. It's not entirely unexpected. Naturalist Mark Ross with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said he's heard the chickadee mating song as early as January in four of the past seven years. It's not exactly a sign of spring, but it is a sign that the winter solstice has passed and the days are getting longer.

The increase in daylight in the weeks after the solstice is be subtle, adding just a few scant minutes, but it's enough to trigger the hormonal changes that stimulate territorial behaviors like singing and social interaction, which eventually leads to mate selection, nest building and mating, in April.

By spring, other voices will join the chickadees in the mating chorus. Chickadees are tiny birds, just five inches long from head to tail. Alaska is home to four species: black-capped chickadees, boreal chickadees, chestnut backed chickadees, and grey headed chickadees. Chestnut backed chickadees are found only along the coastline in the wet rainforests, and grey-headed chickadees are found only in the far north. Gray headed chickadees are the northernmost chickadee in North America, inhabiting the scattered black spruce stands and riparian willows at the northern edge of the tree line in Arctic and subarctic Alaska and Canada.