Our little gymnast, the titmouse, or black-capped chickadee, must not be forgotten. He is not regarded as migratory, and yet he comes to us each winter, and seems to go northward in the spring. He is the most fearless bird of my acquaintance, frequently eating from my hand, and is almost omnivorous, taking anything that comes in his way, from a bone that we hang on a tree for his tiny lordship to pick, down to a plate of preserved berries we have placed on the doorstep for the bluebirds. But he is quite exclusive in his society, and does not mingle freely with the other winter birds. The cold Northern snow-storms seem only to increase his jollity; now here, now there, clinging to a bough, head downward, chanting his chick-a-dee-dee. Emerson pictures him in the following lines:
When piped a tiny voice hard by,
Gay and polite, a cheerful cry,
Chic-chicadeedee! saucy note
Out of sound heart and merry throat,
As if it said, Good day, good sir!
Fine afternoon, old passenger!
Happy to meet you in these places,
Where January brings few faces.
Mary Treat, "Our Winter Birds." The Atlantic Monthly, vol. 49, March 1882.This poet, though he live apart,
Moved by his hospitable heart,
Sped, when I passed his sylvan fort,
To do the honors of his court,
As fits a feathered lord of land;
Flew near, with soft wing grazed my hand,
Hopped on the bough, then, darting low,
Prints his small impress in the snow,
Shows feats of his gymnastic play,
Head downward, clinging to the spray.
Photos from Shilly Shally Lodge, Gatineau Park. From Library and Archives Canada, discovered via A London Salmagundi.