Chickadees and nuthatches are the mainstays at our feeder in winter, and I think they kind of \”go\” with the look of the landscape–elegant black and white, with subtle blue or rosy shadings that mimic the play of afternoon sun on snow.
Both are tiny birds, but the chickadees look cuddlier than the nuthatches. Nuthatches are more streamlined. They have small heads and long beaks–adult proportions. Chickadees are \”neotenic\”–they have the kind of features that remind us of babies and trigger the cuddling response. Puppies and kittens are neotenic with a vengeance: big heads, widely spaced eyes, tiny muzzles. That\’s why we fall victim to them, even when we ought to know better. Chickadees–even the bossy adult males–look like babies too: their heads are round and large in proportion to their bodies, their eyes are wide apart, and their beaks are the size of a niger seed: the very essence of cuteness.
It was sunny today, and cold, but in the middle of the day you could actually feel the warmth of the sun. And up in the bare branches of a birch a chickadee could feel it too, and sang its song with extra oomph: \”Heeere sweetie, sweetie, sweetie!\”
Before you know it, the sweetie will answer the call, and then spring will really be on its way.