7 Best Foods for Black-Capped Chickadees (Must-See!)

The Black-Capped Chickadee eats about a third of its body weight daily, sustaining itself on foods high in fat and protein.

These birds are omnivores, meaning that they eat both vegetable and animal matter. 

The seven best foods for Black-Capped Chickadees are: 

  1. Nuts
  2. Seeds
  3. Berries
  4. Invertebrates
  5. Carrion
  6. Peanut butter
  7. Suet

1. Nuts

Nuts are a popular food choice for Black-Capped Chickadees, who prefer high-fat, energy-dense foods.

Common nuts that are a part of the chickadee’s diet include the tree nuts from hemlock, birch, walnut, and ragweed trees. 

All of these provide good sources of energy for these energetic birds.

Walnuts

Walnuts are a popular choice for chickadees when they’re available. If you want to provide walnuts for your neighborhood chickadees, make sure that you shell them first.

Chickadees don’t have the beak strength necessary to crack into a whole walnut, but they enjoy eating the hearts of these nutritious nuts.

Pecans

Pecans will work as a food for the Black-Capped Chickadee, provided that they are not salted or candied.

These are often included in suet blends or seed cakes, but they can also be offered independently. 

Like walnuts, pecans should be shelled before being offered to chickadees, as their beaks wouldn’t be able to break the hard shells. 

Pine Nuts

Pine nuts are commonly found in bird food mixes and are an accessible, nutritious food choice for chickadees.

Because these nuts don’t have any hard shells, they are easy for small birds like the chickadee to eat. Pine nuts can be served raw or roasted, but they should not be salted.

2. Seeds

Black-Capped Chickadees eat a wide range of seeds, including birch seeds, hemlock seeds, ragweed seeds, pine seeds, and black oil sunflower seeds.

Chickadees eat these seeds one at a time, picking one out of a bird feeder or plant and then taking it to a perch to eat before returning for another snack. 

Birch Seeds

Birch seeds are a popular choice for chickadees and titmice due to their abundance and their nutritional value.

Birch trees are a great choice for landowners looking to attract Black-capped Chickadees and other birds to their property because they provide these seeds and nesting space. 

Hemlock Seeds

Hemlock seeds, which are highly toxic to humans, are a staple in the diet of the Black-Capped Chickadee and many other birds.

While all parts of the plant cause serious and irreversible allergic reactions in humans, the plant’s seeds can be safely consumed by the chickadee.

Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

Black Oil Sunflower seeds attract a wide range of songbirds, including all kinds of chickadees.

They work well with mesh feeders like the No/No Bronze Five Tier Bird Feeder from Amazon.com.

Mesh feeders like this one have big enough holes to allow the sunflower seeds to fit through comfortably.

Black Oil Sunflower seeds have a high oil content, high protein, and sufficient vitamins and minerals for the Black-Capped Chickadee and other birds.

3. Berries

Black-Capped Chickadees eat a wide variety of berries, including bayberries, blueberries, and serviceberries.

They also eat insects that are attracted to berries, so planting berry bushes and trees is a good way to attract Black-capped Chickadees for numerous reasons. 

Sumac

Sumac trees grow bright red berries in the wintertime when other sources of food are harder to find.

Black-Capped Chickadees can often be spotted hiding out in sumac trees during this time, feasting on berries.

These trees grow quickly and easily, even in areas that have been disturbed recently, so they make a great choice for a backyard plant to grow. 

Bayberries

Bayberries are white berries that grow on small shrubs in North America.

These plants have a distinctive aroma and yellow-green flowers, and although they are not particularly showy bushes, they are very useful. 

Bayberries can be used to make sealing wax, candles, and soaps.

Blueberries

Blueberries are a nutritious snack for chickadees and humans alike. They’re rich in sugars and vitamins and grow easily on bushes similar to rhododendrons and azaleas.

Blueberry bushes are recognizable by their white, bell-shaped flowers, as well as their distinctive blue fruits.

Serviceberries

Serviceberry trees are very popular amongst birds. In addition to Black-Capped Chickadees, at least 34 different species of birds enjoy the fruit of these trees.

Serviceberries are also edible for humans, and they attract insects that pollinate flowers and sustain bird populations.

4. Invertebrates

Black-Capped Chickadees eat a diet rich in invertebrates, especially in the summertime. They eat many insects, plus centipedes, spiders, slugs, and other small invertebrates.

By providing plenty of trees and brush in your yard, you can provide habitat for invertebrates that will sustain Black-Capped Chickadees.

Often, the same plants that grow berries for birds to eat will also sustain the insects that they eat. 

Caterpillars

Caterpillars are a favorite food of the Black-Capped Chickadee, especially during the summer months.

Black-Capped Chickadees have been known to eat every single caterpillar they come across without discretion, and they make up the bulk of the chickadee’s diet. 

5. Carrion

Another food of choice for the Black-Capped Chickadee is carrion, which is small pieces of dead animals.

Although carrion is a less common food for the chickadee, it will resort to eating carrion when other food sources are scarce or where carrion is especially abundant.

6. Peanut Butter

Black-Capped Chickadees also love to eat peanut butter, and they will be drawn to your yard if you spread peanut butter on tree trunks and branches.

Peanut butter is an especially good food source for chickadees in the wintertime, when they need lots of calories but don’t have access to as many insects. 

7. Suet

Suet is an energy-dense food perfect for Black-Capped Chickadees. Chickadees need lots of calories, especially in the wintertime, because they’re always in motion.

Suet is made of animal fats, and it makes a great feeder food when insects are harder to find. 

Suet feeders like the Mekkapro Suet Wild Bird Feeder from Amazon.com attract Black-Capped Chickadees, especially when placed at a tree trunk. 

Sources