- Minnesota Breeding Bird Distribution
- Breeding Habitat
- Population Abundance
- Literature Cited
A permanent resident in forested areas and human settlements. The Black-capped Chickadee was abundant during the Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas (MNBBA).
The Black-capped Chickadee is widely distributed across the forested areas of the midwestern and northern regions of the United States and throughout the forested regions of Canada and south in the Rockies to northern New Mexico. The highest densities are in the northeastern and upper midwestern United States and Canada (Figure 1).
Assigned a Continental Concern Score of 7/20 by Partners in Flight.
Permanent resident, but erratic, short-distance migrations occur.
Omnivore; largely insects, spiders, seeds, and berries gleaned from foliage or feeders.
Cavity nester in trees; often self-excavated in a natural cavity; occasionally a nest box or a cavity excavated by a woodpecker.
The Black-capped Chickadee was described by Roberts (1932) as a “common permanent resident throughout the state.” He included limited but wide-ranging confirmed nesting from many areas of the state, from the extreme northeastern regions in Cook County, to Houston County in the southeast, plus many counties throughout the forested regions of Minnesota.
Forty years later, Green and Janssen (1975) did not include a map of confirmed breeding observations but simply stated it was “breeding throughout the state.” Janssen (1987) also described the Black-capped Chickadee as a “common to abundant permanent resident breeding throughout the state.” He included a breeding distribution map with confirmed nesting documented in 44 of the 87 counties, all of which were widely distributed throughout Minnesota. A few years later, Hertzel and Janssen (1998) added another 7 counties to the list of confirmed nesting in Minnesota since 1970.
The Minnesota Biological Survey included 1,502 records of breeding season locations, all of which were broadly distributed throughout the surveyed counties (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources 2016). However, no breeding locations were included from two western counties, Big Stone and Wilkin.
The MNBBA reported 5,646 breeding records from every county in the state (Figure 2). Breeding detections were recorded in 57.3% of the 4,756 blocks with coverage, including confirmed nesting in 603 blocks (Figure 3; Table 1). Nesting was confirmed in 90% (78/87) of the counties in the state. The only counties where nesting was not confirmed were Big Stone, Faribault, Grant, Lincoln, Martin, Redwood, Rock, Traverse, and Watonwan; all are located in the southwestern part of the state. Probable nesting was observed in all of these counties, except these three: Lincoln, Redwood, and Traverse. Confirmed nesting activity was particularly dense in areas with the most intense coverage, such as in the Twin Cities and Brainerd areas.
The MNBBA probability map exemplified the wide distribution of the Black-capped Chickadee throughout Minnesota (Figure 4). The highest densities were predicted in the urban and suburban areas of the Twin Cities and other populated areas, such as the lakes region around Brainerd. Lower densities were predicted in the southwestern and western portions of the state where there are fewer trees as well as in many of the bog areas where trees are often too small and unsuitable for nest sites. However, Black-capped Chickadee occur in riparian areas, urban areas, and woodlots throughout the state.
Roberts (1932) did not mention any changes to the species’ population or distribution from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Cutright et al. (2006), during their breeding bird atlas from 1995 to 2000, found the Black-capped Chickadee nesting throughout Wisconsin but suggested that it may have become more common than in previous years due to logging and opening of the forest in the northern portion of the state. In contrast, they also cite Kumlien and Hollister (1903), who stated that its status had not changed much since the previous century. In their review of the Black-capped Chickadee in North America, Foote et al. (2010) emphasized the species has had “no substantial historical changes in distribution.”
Because this species nests in trees, it is difficult to comprehend that loss of forested habitat in Minnesota over the past 150 years has not had a negative effect on its population. However, its commonness and the lack of comparable monitoring data from the 1800s or early 1900s render it impossible to gauge whether any change has occurred. The Black-capped Chickadee has adapted well to human-dominated landscapes, and its fondness for bird feeders may have mitigated any possible negative effects from the reduced number of trees in the state.
*Note that the definition of confirmed nesting of a species is different for Breeding Bird Atlas projects, including the definition used by the Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas, compared with a more restrictive definition used by the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union. For details see the Data Methods Section.