Chickadee ‘Hey Sweetie’ Already?

Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
December 12, 2016

On a blustery winter walk on Wolf Ridge campus, naturalist Hannah Edstrom heard something rather unusual. Coming from a nearby tree, a flock of chickadees began emitting a loud “fee-bee” call. Not having heard that sound in the winter before, Hannah ran to Wolf Ridge’s resident bird expert Nathan Cross. When Hannah told Nathan about this call, he got very excited.


Chickadees usually make their “fee-bee” call in late winter and early spring. This call is thought to signal the start of the mating season and is often interpreted as “hey sweetie.” Hearing this call in December is very rare. This early in winter, the call may indicate a territorial dispute between male chickadees but it’s significance during non-mating seasons is still unknown.


Keep your ears open for “hey sweetie” as you explore forests near you.

Written by Hannah Edstrom, Rory Anderson and Rosie Hesla