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Males begin singing fee-bee-ee in late winter as their flocks begin to break up. During long singing bouts they may change pitch after many repetitions (here are two songs by one bird). During the breeding season males sing fee-bee-ee to defend territory and attract a mate. When heard from a distance the song may sound like a two-note fee-bee, but it is almost always three notes. The function of the chickadee call depends on context. In winter a bird may use the call when it gets separated from the flock. It also is used when mobbing small mammal or perched avian predators. In that case, the number of 'dees' in each call is greater with smaller, more threatening predators. Paradoxically, it is used as an 'all clear' call when birds are frozen in response to a flying predator. The scolding dee-dee call is used by males and females in aggressive interactions and territorial skirmishes. You can hear a variety of chickadee calls in this recording of interactions among birds. The whiney tship call accompanied by the wing-quiver display is given by begging fledglings and by females during mate feeding. The begging, wing-quivering bird in this recording appeared to be a fledgling, as three birds were present. (An adult also calls five times in this recording. Scratchy noises are birds moving in the tree branches.) (Albany and St.Lawrence Counties, New York.)
Habitat: Lower levels of open woods and in thickets. Common in suburbs.
Song is a loud, clear downslurred whistle and is easily heard at a distance. Each phrase is usually repeated several times. Often written as 'peter peter peter'. (Albany County, New York.)
Habitat: Woods, suburbs.