Chickadees appeal to me on many, many levels. I love them as I love all wild birds, as members of a unique species with wonderful physical and behavioral adaptations, and as individuals to be reckoned with. But I also love chickadees as role models of how humans, as individuals and as societies, could be. Chickadees are the epitome of self-reliance. Each chickadee finds a good unoccupied roost cavity or excavates one entirely on its own, using that tiny but sturdy chickadee beak.
|Chickadee in its own excavated cavity
As with most human societies, chickadee flocks are hierarchical in structure. The top ranking males and females are more assertive than lower ranking birds, and apparently have physical characteristics that help them assert their dominance. One researcher recognizes higher-ranking birds under UV lights because their feathers reflect more UV light than lower ranking birds. This may be a signal of which birds are better at furnishing themselves with good roost holes, better protecting their feathers from weathering, or may indicate which birds are most effective at procuring healthy diets, or in some other way indicate fitness. In fall, young birds joining a chickadee flock often raise their body feathers and hold their wings open, as if trying to appear larger, while working out their rankings.
|My chickadee peeking in to get my attention
|Chickadee being rehabbed at the Raptor Education Group, Inc.
|Chickadee being released to the wild after being rehabbed at the Raptor Education Group, Inc.