People residing in a particular state can select state animals that best represent the natural heritage of their state. Sometimes two or more states may have the same state symbols, as in the case of Maine and Massachusetts, both of which have selected the black-capped chickadee as their state bird. Also known as the black-cap titmouse, dickey-bird, and tomtit, the scientific name of the state bird of Maine and Massachusetts is Parus atricapillus. The proposal for the chickadee as the state bird of Maine came from William D. Hall of Castine in 1927.
Commonly seen throughout Maine in woodlands and suburban areas, the black-capped chickadee is a small bird, about five inches (12.7 cm) in length, with a small, pointed beak and brown eyes. It has a round head with a black cap, black nape, white throat and white cheeks. The tail is longish and arched, and the feet and claws are greyish blue in color. Both sexes are similar in appearance.
The black-capped chickadee is a monogamous bird, and pairs that bond stay together for life. The female titmouse builds the nest, using moss and wood bits to fashion the nest in existing tree cavities. If there are no available cavities, she will excavate a new cavity of her own, or she may use bird boxes and bird houses that have been specially set up. The female incubates the six to eight eggs for 12 days and during this time the male feeds her. Once the chicks have hatched, both parents take turns in feeding them.
The state bird of Maine is named after the characteristic "chickadee" call that it makes to communicate with other birds or to warn them against possible danger. It is a cheerful, sociable bird. Some can get friendly enough to take seeds from a proffered human hand, and may even follow people and peck at the food they are carrying when the opportunity presents itself. The birds can get aggressive on occasion, and have been known to attack, kill and eat smaller or younger birds.
The chickadee mainly feeds on insects and fruits. While it hops around trees, fields, and houses looking for food, it does not usually scavenge for food on the ground, unless it is for fallen fruit or strewn grain. The birds hide or store food in caches in different places and remember where they are stored. The state bird of Maine is not a migratory in nature.