Subject: BC chickadee songs
Date: May 1 13:59:36 1995
From: Dennis Paulson - dpaulson at

Tweeters, I would appreciate it if you would pay attention to the whistled
songs that the Black-capped Chickadees give in your neighborhood or when
you're out and about. The dialect at least from Seattle to Ocean Shores is
entirely different from that of Black-caps all over the rest of the
country, and I'm trying to work out how widespread this is in populations
of chickadees west of the Cascades from BC to OR. The birds in my yard
have (typically) a 4-noted whistle, diminishing toward the end, and this
sort of call seems common in the Puget Sound area. Throughout most of
North America, *all* BCCH sing "feee-beee" with the first note
conspicuously higher than the second. From the Rockies west, you also hear
a 3-noted "fee-bee-bee" with the first note higher. But west of the
Cascades, it's entirely different. If you could just let me know how many
notes your chickadee songs have and which are highest or lowest, that would
do it. Any information about variation would also be interesting. Very
important is to include where this information comes from.

I'm disconnected from tweeters for a week, so I'd appreciate any
information mailed directly to me. I tried WOSNEWS a few years ago and got
very little response, so I'm curious to find out if e-mail works better.
Chickadees give their whistled "songs" most commonly in the morning, and
most if not all of us on this list should have Black-capped Chickadees
nearby. I'll summarize the hundreds of responses I expect to get.

I'm especially interested in responses away from the Seattle-Olympia axis.
I have 20-year-old recordings from Skagit County in which the chickadees
sound like eastern chickadees, so maybe a new dialect has arisen!

Dennis Paulson, Director phone: (206) 756-3798
Slater Museum of Natural History fax: (206) 756-3352
University of Puget Sound e-mail: dpaulson at
Tacoma, WA 98416