Residents of western Pennsylvania are familiar with the small and spunky black-capped chickadees that often visit their birdfeeders. These fearless birds are also frequent visitors at our banding lab at Powdermill Nature Reserve.
Last winter, this chickadee was one of the oldest of his species banded at the lab. It was first banded as a hatch-year bird at the end of August 2007, which means its age was 8½ years!
This individual has been captured 42 times in its life (so far!), at least twice every year, most often in the winter months.
It has shown up in every month of the year except June and July. In 2011, the only year that we saw this bird in May, it had a cloacal protuberance, an enlargement of the cloaca indicating breeding condition in males. So we know it is a male and that his territory is obviously not near our nets.
We are hoping to see this individual in the future. The oldest known black-capped chickadee was 11½ years old when it was banded in Minnesota in 2002.
Powdermill Nature Reserve’s avian research center is part of Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s biological research station in Rector, Pennsylvania. The research center operates a bird banding station, conducts bioacoustical research, and performs flight tunnel analysis with the goal of reducing window collisions.