Fire-Capped Chickadees

I have no art for this—yet—but I have to write it down before I forget, after a conversation at AC…


The fire-capped chickadee is not the smallest of the garden phoenixes—that honor goes, depending on region, either to the flame-throated hummingbird or the blue-gray gnatscorcher—but certainly the most common visitor to birdfeeders. Their distinctive call of “Chik-a-dee-dee-dee-FWOOM!” is one of the first that most birders learn to identify.

Phoenix lovers can attract this cheerful specimen with the usual offerings of broken match-heads and small lengths of unburnt wicks. As always, we suggest that you make sure to use an asbestos feeder and use gloves when setting out food—those feeders can get hot!


Diana Stein was talking about urban fantasy wildlife, which I thought was delightful—in hers, it was blue-jays. She had a marvelous blue-jay phoenix in the art show.  I started thinking about a world where phoenix-ism is a transmittable (or possibly heritable?) disease among birds, and so you might get a phoenix subset of a common species, like albinism. In some areas, perhaps phoenixes would actually be selected for, so while the Carolina parakeet is long extinct, we could hope for a glimpse of the far more dangerous Carolina paraffinkeet…

Yes, this is what it’s like in my head more or less all the time, with occasional moments of “ooh! pie!” and random animal facts. I just learned today that daddy-longlegs masturbate. They use strands of silk to stimulate their genital areas. How wild is that?

10 thoughts on “Fire-Capped Chickadees

  1. tanita says:

    Can you tell me where you found this rather disturbing gem about the daddy long-legs? I found out they bite (pinch?) awhile back, and have been a lot less calm ever since.

    I totally want a paraffinkeet.

  2. raff says:

    @ tanita

    Googlebooks has it quoted in a book along with some other facts about animal sexuality.

    Here’s the link (it’s pretty long because it goes right to the page):

    Also, did you know that female porcupines stick twigs into their er… lady bits, so that when they walk, the twigs will bounce off things on the ground and create vibrations?

    Yes, you heard me right. Porcupines have vibrators, and they probably invented them LONG before we did.

    The wonders of nature, folks!

  3. Korbl says:

    That bit on phoenixes is great. Gave me an idea for art I think I could just about do… illustrating animistic spirits with field note type stuff. Thanks!

  4. Mean Waffle says:

    I love urban fantasy wildlife. One of the things that always felt left out of the old X-Men “Children of the Atom” explanation of mutants was mutations in wildlife. If atomic mutations, or magic, were real, it would not be something that only showed up in humans.

    Phoenixism is a wonderful idea, no matter how it spreads. And that blurb was spot on.

    This is reminding me of a bit from an old NANOWRIMO novel that I never finished. It had a tortoise trying to cross the road without getting hit by a pickup truck in a high magic area. It’s posted here:

    It’s at 2A, if you’re interested in the wildlife part, which is a takeoff of a similar chapter in Grapes of Wrath. And the rest of it is the beginning of something with no middle, let alone no end, so there’s no reason not to skip it.

    As to the masturbating spider, have you heard about what some Cape ground squirrels get up to?

  5. Hawk says:

    There’s a daddy long legs in my tub this morning.

    …and now it’s in my head that there’s also, possibly, spider jizz in my tub.

    Oh God, I need to clean :(

    (My brain AND my tub)

    Phoenix sub sets of “normal” creatures is so damn awesome it makes up for the spider jizz though.

  6. Maya says:

    Now I need someone to write a book with these different types of phoenix birds- and I’m not usually even Into birds…

    It’s a beautiful idea- really, thanks for sharing it.

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