Monday, February 23, 2009

Titmice and chickadees cache food for winter survival

Several people asked me today if I had figured out why a group of titmice or chickadees is called a "banditry" (from yesterday's post). I wasn’t able to find anything in my books or on the Internet, so I don’t really know, but if I were to guess, it might be because these two little birds stash seeds in a food cache all autumn to prepare for food shortages in the winter ahead. In a previous post, I talked about the birds in our area that stash food. These birds have larger spatial memories than non-caching birds, and the extra brain cells (beefed up during the autumn) help them keep track of the seeds they hide. In our area, food-caching birds are White-breasted Nuthatches, Blue Jays, Tufted Titmice and chickadees.

A pencil sketch of a Carolina Chickadee sitting on a pine bough (by Kelly Riccetti)
A pencil sketch I did of my favorite bird, a Carolina Chickadee.
In the autumn, the chickadees and titmice step up their food gathering behavior, so maybe their constant trips to the feeder (or any other food source) appear to be “stealing” as they zoom in, grab a seed, and then fly off without eating it. Maybe this thievery earned them the description of a "banditry" of chickadees or titmice. Who knows...

...or maybe it's just because they appear to wear masks! 

6 comments:

Roy said...

Hi Kelly
It may be because they look like they are wearing a mask as well. At least they are dressed for the part.

Roy said...

See? I said they were little bandits!

Great sketch of the Chickadee.

I've been trying to post this comment since last night but the system wouldn't give me a word to type into the security box. Now that I've managed to post a comment on tonight's post I'm hoping this will work.

Kelly said...

Thanks, Roy! I just switched to "full page comment" instead of "embedded" comment. Kallen mentioned embedded wasn't working for her. Maybe this will work better.

Nick S said...

I love your sketch. You should do more !

Kelly said...

...thanks, Nick. That's one of my "things" for this year, the Year of the Bird. I'm getting back to sketching and painting birds because it's such a joy.

teri said...

Searching the web for why a collection of chickadees is called a banditry. I came across you lovely blog- What a wonderful sketch! Not sure if you will get this, as it is a very old post. Have a great day