Stocking Up – Black-capped Chickadees
Limited Edition of 100, 10″ x 17″ – $120.00
Open Edition of 200, 14″ x 7″ – $35.00
With the approach of winter, tough times are ahead for chickadees. They are warm-blooded; therefore, a great deal of time is spent gathering food. During cold temperatures, food is needed most to heat the body; however, it is when food supplies are at their lowest. Spiders and insects are not readily available, and the diet of chickadees becomes mostly seeds. With daylight shorter in the winter, and because chickadees feed only in daytime, the feeding time is less than the fasting time.
Chickadees must adapt to the cold of winter to prevent starvation and freezing. Several behaviors enable this adaptation. They molt in the fall. The new feathers thicken in time to conserve heat in the winter. They are long, and when fluffed up, the feathers still overlap holding in the warmth when needed most. The insulating layer of trapped air is very effective. Ornithologists claim the difference between the temperature on the outer surface of the feathers and the skin temperature can be more than 40 degrees Celsius. Also, chickadees lower their metabolic rate during cold nights by regulated hypothermics. Energy requirements are now reduced by about 25 percent. Another way to conserve energy is to reduce flying time. By caching food in the fall, they can spend time in the winter in sheltered places near high concentrations of food. Wayne Lynch, in his book, gives the example of the little birds in Norway storing 50,000 to 80,000 seeds each autumn. Stocking up allows them to eat more and exercise less on cold days. No wonder chickadees manage so well in places where few other birds remain throughout the cold winter months.
In the composition, “Stocking Up”, a pair of chickadees is depicted gathering seeds in the fall from a paper birch. Each contributes to the survival of the other as they build together a storehouse of energy for use in the bitter cold ahead.