Differences between Chickadee and Sparrow

Chickadee Chickadee
Sparrow Sparrow

Chickadee and Sparrow are two classes of birds that belong to the Paridae and Passeridae families respectively.

Chickadee is a group of North American songbirds that symbolizes energy and courage. The name is analogous to the bird’s call notes that is usually used to send out alarms. It is interesting that the number of times ‘dee’ is called out is based on the type of predator. Chickadees are capable of producing 13 types of complex vocalizations. Chickadees are small birds with a round head and long tail. Their crown, forehead, and neck are deep black in color. The cheeks and belly are pure white, while the back is grey. The wings and tail are streaks of white and black. The eyes of Chickadees are brown. Their bill is short, slightly curved, and black. Chickadee is an inquisitive bird and quick in spotting preys and feeders. It is especially known for its exemplary memory. The bird conceals about 80,000 seeds in different places during the summer and reclaims them efficiently in the winter. Chickadees are also capable of identifying and remembering every aspect of their environment.

Sparrows are one of the most commonly found birds in the world. They are petite birds with a round head and small beak that is shaped like a cone. Their plumage is either brown or grey with white streaks. The feather on their belly is usually white. The birds have a long and stiff tail. An interesting fact about Sparrows is that they have a bone in their tongue. As these are perching birds, they have clawed feet with three forward-pointing and one backward-pointing toe. Sparrows are songbirds that make chirping sounds. There are over 140 species of these birds in the world. They are generally classified as Old World species and New World species. Sparrows are mentioned in mythology and the Bible. Their earliest fossils, found in caves in Israel, are dated back to over 100,000 years.

Where are Chickadee and Sparrow found?

Chickadees generally live in dense forests and coniferous regions. However, they can also be found in open grasslands and open woods near waterbeds. They have also adapted themselves to live in parks and gardens in cities. They are regular visitors at backyards. Chickadees are native to North America. They exist there in huge population. There are seven Chickadee species in the continent. Some of them are Mountain Chickadee, Boreal Chickadee, Mexican Chickadee, and Black-capped Chickadee. Similar birds exist in Asia, Africa, and Europe. However, only the North American group of birds are known as Chickadees. The other identical birds are mostly known as tits.

Sparrows prefer thick forests, open fields, agricultural farms, and fringes of forests. However, a large population of Sparrows also live in the parks, gardens, and buildings of cities. The Old World species of Sparrows originally belong to Asia, Africa, and Europe. The New World species have been introduced in North America, South America, Australia, and New Zealand.

What do Chickadee and Sparrow eat?

Chickadees are omnivores. They mostly eat insects, snails, spiders, worms, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and ants besides berries, seeds, and fruits. Occasionally the birds also eat small invertebrates and carrion.

Sparrows are omnivores. They largely eat seeds and grains like cereals, wheat, rice, oats, and corn. They also eat insects and worms. Occasionally the birds eat human food refuse.

Here are a few pointers about the eating patterns between Chickadee and Sparrow

  • Neither Chickadee nor Sparrow eat Fish.
  • Chickadee do not eat Frogs while Sparrow eat Frogs.
  • Both Chickadee and Sparrow eat Lizards.
  • Chickadee do eat Snakes while Sparrow may not eat Snakes.
  • Neither Chickadee nor Sparrow eat Turtles.
  • Neither Chickadee nor Sparrow eat Squirrels.
  • Chickadee and Sparrow do not eat Gophers.
  • Both Chickadee and Sparrow do not eat Baby Ducks.
  • Mice are not eaten by both Chickadee and Sparrow.

Size of Chickadee and Sparrow?

When it comes to size, Chickadees are small birds. They are 2.4-5.5 inches long and have a wingspan of six to eight inches.. The size of Sparrows depends on the species. The average size is however 0.5-0.6 feet in length. Chestnut Sparrow is the smallest Sparrow with a length of 0.4 feet, while the Parrot-billed Sparrow is the largest with a length of 0.59 feet.

The weight of Chickadees depends on the species. The average weight is 0.29-0.39 ounces. while The average weight of the Sparrow is 0.84 ounce. The weight of the Chestnut Sparrow is 0.5 ounce and that of the Parrot-billed Sparrow is 1.5 ounce.

Where do Chickadee and Sparrow nest?

Chickadees generally build their nests in wooded areas, four to 15 feet above the ground. They prefer tree holes and cavities. They also use boxes and birdhouses. Sometimes, the male and female partners dig cavities in the trees. The female bird chooses the nesting site and constructs the nest. The nest of Chickadees is shaped like a cup and made of twigs, leaves, and other material on the outer. It is lined with soft material like moss, rabbit fur, and feathers on the inside. Chickadee eggs are pinkish white with dark speckles. The female incubates them for 12-13 days during which time she is fed by her partner. After the eggs hatch, both partners share the duties of feeding and protecting the young ones. The chicks fledge when they are about 16 days old.

Sparrows build their nests in holes and cavities of small trees, in shrubs, and buildings. They prefer their nests to be closer to the ground. The nests generally look spherical and measure eight to 10 inches in diameter. The female and male partners construct the nest using straw, twigs, roots, leaves, grass, paper, thread, wool, and feather. The eggs are completely white, or bluish white, or greenish white with brown spots. Both partners incubate the eggs. The eggs hatch in 10-14 days. The young ones that are fed by both parents fledge in about two weeks.

How long do Chickadee and Sparrow live?

The average lifespan of Chickadees in the wild is three to seven years. Most nestlings face threat of being eaten by hawks, owls, and other mammals that climb trees. The longest known lived Chickadee was 11 years and five months old.

Sparrows are known to live for four to seven years. Some species can even live up to 20 years. The House Sparrows live until 23 years in captivity.

Are Chickadee or Sparrow migratory birds?

Chickadees are typically non-migratory. They reside in their territories throughout the year. While adult birds always stay put by huddling together in small flocks during winters, the young ones may travel long distances when population at their territories increases after breeding. However, this cannot be termed as migration. Winters are managed without migration as Chickadees have special adaptations. They have dense plumes that help them maintain body temperature during the day. At nights, they roost in flocks. The birds also stay active to keep themselves warm. Further, Chickadees store seeds and grains in summers so they don’t run out of food during winters.

Not all Sparrows are migratory. The ones from Canada, North America, northern parts of Europe, and east Asia migrate during winters. The House Sparrows typically do not migrate as they do not encounter harsh weather or scarcity of food in any time of the year. Among the migratory species, American Tree Sparrow migrates from North America and Canada to the USA, while the Savannah Sparrow travels from Alaska to the USA. In northern and central Europe, migration takes place among Eurasian Tree Sparrow that relocates to Africa. The Russet Sparrow is a species from Himalayas that spends its time in south-east Asia during winters.

Do Chickadee and Sparrow fly in flocks?

A flock of Chickadees is called banditry. These birds are extremely gregarious. They are friendly with birds of their own species as well as other birds. They use special calls to interact with their flocks. The birds also follow a complex social hierarchy. Chickadees mostly live in pairs during the breeding season. In other times, they live in small flocks of four to 12 birds. In winters they roost in flocks to maintain body temperature.

A group of Sparrows is called a flock. The birds are highly sociable. They live in colonies of about 20 birds, which may even extend to about a 100. The birds are always found in groups, foraging, flying, and roosting together. Their nests are also built next to each other during the breeding season. Sparrows are also intelligent birds. They are known for cooperation and teamwork. The birds work together to find food, build nests, preen feathers, and remove lice and parasites from their skin. They chirp incessantly to let their group know about where they are. As Sparrows are tiny birds, living in large flocks also helps in intimidating the predator and also mobbing the predator if required.

Are Chickadee or Sparrow protected?

Chickadees are protected under the law in North America. According to the law, it is illegal to hunt, harm, trap or transport the birds or their nests.

Not all species of Sparrows are protected. For example, the House Sparrow is not protected in the USA. It has partial protection in the UK, where shooting it with a licence is allowed. The species is fully protected in Canada.

Are Chickadee or Sparrow endangered?

Chickadees are neither threatened nor endangered. They exist in booming numbers. However, their population is expected to get scattered and their habitats are likely to get distributed owing to global warming and climate change.

Sparrows are not endangered but their numbers are on a steep decline. Factors affecting the population of Sparrows are loss of habitat, scarcity of food, urbanization, radiation from mobile towers, pollution, use of pesticides in farmlands, and hunting.

Can Chickadee and Sparrow fly?

In flight, the wings and tail of Chickadees are spread out. The birds move up and down while flying and usually do not fly in a straight line. They flap their wings vigorously in short intervals. The maximum flying speed of Chickadees is 12 miles per hour. Chickadees either fly alone or in flocks that may also include other species of birds. They are capable of performing acrobatics while hanging on to trees or bird feeders.

Sparrows fly by taking off directly, flapping their wings, and folding their legs. Their average flying speed is 24-31 miles an hour. The altitude range they can fly at varies for different species. While most of them normally fly at around 500 feet, some fly at around 2,000 feet. During migration they fly 5,000-20,000 feet high and cover 15-600 miles in a day. Sparrows fly in flocks because they are tiny birds and flying in groups supports energy conservation. It will also help them spot and threaten predators. On the ground, Sparrows are commonly seen hopping. They jump forward and backward for scraping mud, leaves, or grass with their toes and search for food underneath.

Can Chickadee and Sparrow swim?

Chickadees are small birds with feet adapted for perching. Therefore, they cannot swim. But the birds visit shallow waters for drinking and bathing. They are also capable of bathing in cold icy waters during winters.

Sparrows are not regular swimmers. However, they can swim fast to escape from danger. Some species like the House Sparrow can even swim under water. Sparrows regularly bathe in water, sometimes even in a puddle. They wiggle in water to loosen up the dirt on their feathers and to control body temperature.

Mating patterns among Chickadee and Sparrow

Chickadees attain sexual maturity when they are six to eight months old. Soon after winter, the flocks start disintegrating and the birds will become more territorial. There is no particular mating ritual that Chickadees follow. The male Chickadees become aggressive to defend their territories. Some of them also feed their partners. The male and female engage in singing and fluttering of wings during courtship. The female recites ‘dee’ multiple times to keep her partner undistracted. At the same time, she is observant of the singing competitions between her partner and other males. Chickadees generally raise only one brood each year. The clutch could have one to 13 eggs depending on the species. The female lays one egg per day. Older females lay the maximum number of eggs. The female bird incubates the eggs and also protects them from predators. She is supported by her partner after hatching to tend to the young ones.

Depending on the species, Sparrows start mating when they are five to nine months old. The birds mate in small colonies. During courtship, the male hops around the female with inflated chest, raised tail, and slouched wings. He also chirps and sings for her. The partners copulate until the female can lay eggs. They produce nearly four broods in a breeding season. The female lays one to eight eggs in a clutch. Both partners incubate the eggs and raise the chicks.

When is the mating season for Chickadee and Sparrow ?

The mating season for Chickadees occurs during April-June. The birds start pairing in the beginning of April and by the start of May they start building their nests.

The mating season for sparrows depends on geography. It can range from March to August. The courtship can begin as early as January.

Do Chickadee and Sparrow mate for life?

Chickadees are usually monogamous. Their relationships last for several years or for life. In some cases, the female may dissociate from her partner if she finds another mate from a higher status in the hierarchy.

Sparrows mate for life. They remain monogamous throughout their life and return to the same nesting territory every year. When one of the partners is lost or dies, the surviving partner finds another mate within a few days.

How do Chickadee and Sparrow sleep?

Chickadees sleep in tree holes, bird boxes, or ledges of buildings. They prefer to sleep alone except in winters when they huddle together with their flock. During winters, the birds eat plenty of seeds and insects to endure the long cold nights when they will not be able to venture out for foraging.

Sparrows roost in large groups while perching on trees. They may even shelter inside tree holes and cavities. They draw together to stay warm on cold nights. Their usual sleeping posture is head tucked inside plumped up feathers.

Can Chickadee and Sparrow be eaten?

There have been instances of people eating the meat of Chickadees in the past. However, harming and hunting of these birds is illegal under modern laws.

Sparrows are widely consumed by people. They are a delicacy in French, Italian, Japanese, and German cuisines. As the law in most countries provide protection only to some species of Sparrows, obtaining the bird meat for food is not restricted.

Can you hunt Chickadee or Sparrow?

Chickadees may have been hunted in the past for their meat. However, modern laws do not permit hunting, harming, or trapping of the birds.

Sparrows are hunted for their meat. They are considered a pest by farmers, who kill them to save their crops. Hunting Sparrows is allowed in some countries, while killing them with a licence is permitted in few others.

Can you feed Chickadee or Sparrow?

Chickadees have never been domesticated by humans. They are nevertheless offered food at bird feeders. People usually give them sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet blends.

Sparrows can be fed with a mix of seeds, corn, millets, fruits, and insects.