Chickadee saves the day, a reminder not to overlook everyday wildlife

As I’ve become more interested in wildlife photography lately, I’ve been thinking about the many animals that I tend to overlook — and why. And I think I’ve figured it out.

If the critter is common, something I see on a regular basis, it doesn’t usually strike me as particularly interesting or beautiful regardless of the animal’s actual actions or appearance. I simply consider it a part of the scenery and move on. What a shame.

For example, the common crow — I see hundreds of them passing over my house recently, flocking to their evening roost. If I really think about it, it’s fascinating how thousands of these birds congregate in one place after a long day of hunting and scavenging. They gather to sleep. How do they know where to go? Beats me. And they aren’t exactly ugly birds, are they? With their sleek black feathers and formidable beak, they’ve got a classic look (think ‘little black dress’).

Then there’s sea gulls. I’m not being specific about the type of sea gull because I don’t know the different types. All I know is that they seem to like McDonalds. Recently, a Facebook friend of mine posted a head shot of a ring-billed gull and a head shot of a herring gull side by side to show the drastic difference between the two gulls. And that got me thinking — have I ever taken a photo of a sea gull? I mean, intentionally? These large birds are actually quite pretty.

I think what started my contemplating about “overlooked wildlife” is when I placed a new bird feeder in the backyard. All of my previous bird feeders are placed near the garden, where I can’t see them from any windows. So I decided to place a new feeder in a tree within sight of my dining room window, so that I might have a look at who decides to visit. During the first day, I kept glancing out the window to see if any local wildlife had discovered the new source of food, but every time I looked, I was disappointed. Then, on the second day, I was walking out to my car to drive to work and I happened to glance over the fence at the feeder, and I saw movement. I took out my camera for a closer look … lo, and behold — a chickadee!


The black-capped chickadee, so numerous in my neck of the woods, the Maine state bird. When I’m out hiking in the woods, hoping to see some wildlife to photograph, rarely will I stop for the common chickadee, though it serenades me as it flits about the bushes.

But recently, on a number of occasions, the black-capped chickadee has saved my day, so to speak. (And not just at the bird feeder.) When I’ve just about accepted that my snowshoeing expedition has been wildlife-less, a chickadee (often several) with appear in a tree by the trail as if asking to be my model for the day. And as it turns out, they make pretty good models.

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at