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Sunday, February 22, 2015

What's a "pile" of chickadees, and why should you care?

Carolina Chickadee
On cool nights, chickadees (the ones in north Texas are Carolina Chickadees) sleep together in a pile to conserve and share body heat. This way, they stay alive to propogate. Normally this takes place in a hollowed tree, or brushpile, but could be in an artificial “roost” you set up (a roost could be a variety of cozy places, such as an unused birdhouse or any other place that offers some protection from the winds, weather and predators). Other birds seek out roosts too - but chickadees are known for “piling” in the winter and cool spring nights.

You’ll probably never see a true Black-capped Chickadee here. Ours is a
Carolina Chickadee
slightly different species called Carolina Chickadee. It has a black cap too – hence the confusing names. The term ‘Carolina’ stems from the late 1700s when everything west of each of the original states was informally earmarked for that state’s future expansion. So things in north Texas were ‘Carolina’.



Insect eaters like good fruit, too

Many insect-eating birds (in north Texas that’s Robins, Mockingbirds, Kinglets, Orioles, Thrashers etc.) will turn into fruit eaters whenever insects aren’t abundant. Insects aren’t around in cooler weather, and fruit (typically in the form of berries) gives them the energy they need. They may even try fresh seeds when they’re really hungry.



OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton.

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