Chestnut-backed Chickadee

For Christmas, I bought Erin a new bird feeder to replace one that had been broken earlier in the summer. A few weeks ago, we finally got some seed and put it outside, but this was in the middle of a cold snap where daytime highs remained in the low 20’s, and the nighttime lows, well, we just won’t go there. For about a week, the feeder hung with no activity. Then, as the cold began to lift, there was a single chickadee in the lilac tree. It must have spread the news because a few days later, the feeder had full activity.

Erin had noticed that we had Chestnut-backed chickadees this year, in addition to the Black-capped and Mountain varieties that have been showing up regularly since we moved in. So, now we have three of the four chickadee species found in Idaho. It’s unlikely that we’ll see the Boreal chickadee at our feeders since it prefers high altitudes and is found in the northernmost portion of the panhandle.

Since the feeder has been up, we’ve also seen the return of the juncos, red-breasted nuthatch, house finch, pine siskin, and common redpoll.

One of the problems photographing chickadees is that they’re so damn fast. They would land on the feeder, and in the time it took to swing the mirror up and open the shutter, they were already leaving. I think the noise from the shutter/mirror mechanism is frightening them away. The result is very few images of chickadees sitting still, and a whole portfolio of chickadees in mid-wing flap. In some ways, this is no good, but in another way, it’s a neat series of images. So I present to you a gallery of chickadee mis-fires, or birds that just won’t cooperate for a photo shoot.