Black-capped chickadee

Parus atricapillus

Amid sizable flocks of goldfinches and other songbirds, a Valley Center birder recently spotted a single black and white bird about five inches long.

Seeing the black-capped chickadee was worthy of bragging to his friends.

It was the first he's seen at his feeder since 2007.

Once a common Kansas songbird, black-capped numbers were dramatically reduced by West Nile Virus several years ago.

The disease also greatly reduced blue jay populations but their numbers are currently strong.

Chickadees have been slower to recover, though birders are reporting improved numbers this winter.