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Fright and Flight

There is nothing quite so terrifying as a Black-capped Chickadee, at least if you are a goldfinch - an American Goldfinch. Yes,indeed, the chickadees are smaller than our brightly-coloured selves but my! Are they ferocious! In fact, just the other day, while I was perching passively upon a sunflower head, partaking of a peaceful meal of sunflower seeds, a chickadee came zipping toward me like some strange bumblebee. With frightening speed it hooked its sharp talons into the lower sunflower petals and unfolding its wings so that they were spread upon both sides of its feathered body, the tiny terrorist glared up at me with beady eyes. My heart practically halted its rhythmic dance in my golden breast, I had never been so alarmed in all of my born days! To have that little black-masked ruffian swinging threateningly beneath me (upside down even!) was much too much, and I swiftly made my escape before it demonstrated any more hostilities. Ah, if  only we goldfinches had some bravado like some birds, but we don’t, though it would be rather useful when it comes to opposing chickadees.

A shy and wary visitor in backyards, the females of this species are of a dull olive-yellow hue  at all seasons of the year, but the males in the summer are a brilliant yellow with a black cap and wings.

Mistakenly called “wild canaries”, true canaries dwell off the west cost of Africa. These two bird species do, though, share the same family in classification. There is also a species of goldfinch that is native to Eurasia, fittingly named the Eurasian Goldfinch, who bears a red mask,beige body and yellow wing bars;not as striking as our own species.

A common urban bird, the Black-capped Chickadee is a common visitor to backyard feeders. Frisky and fearless, these birds have adapted very well to city life and are a cheerful sight in any yard.

Their wings are grey, below them are lines of pale yellow; their breasts and underparts are white and they bear a black cap obscuring their eyes and a black bib beneath their bills. Their call is unmistakable: Chick-a-dee-dee-dee. They also give short tweets and a little “peep” alarm call. They are very fond of black oil sunflower seeds as well as mixtures of good quality peanut butter and suet.

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