A friend let me know today that it is the coldest day in Madison since our kids were born (mine in 1999 and 2004, hers in 2000)!
Despite the cold, Dan heard a chickadee sing "fee-bee" on his way to work at 9am! It has been really cold the past few days too, and I also finally heard a chickadee sing "fee-bee" on Jan 13th (at 9am also!). I had been listening for them, but I didn't hear a chickadee sing that song from Dec 27th to Jan 13th. Maybe they only call at 9am? I will have to listen for them at that time more often. Please let me know if you are hearing them sing these days.
What I want to know is why do chickadees singing their spring courtship song so early? What about today could possibly make them think of spring! My research on the internet revealed that chickadees will infrequently produce their courtship song at other times of the year too. So to make this a meaningful phenological data point, I probably need to record how often I hear their song during all the months of the year, and see if around Jan 17th (the date on the Aldo Leopold Foundation phenology calendar) is when the frequency of their singing increases. They don't nest until May, so January seems rather early to be singing. Maybe they are just practicing, or maybe they are getting a headstart on establishing their territory, or maybe it's not a courtship song at all. Whatever their reason, I do like to hear them sing, so I am glad they do so in January!