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Word of the Week: Monomorphic

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Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Monomorphic [ mon-uh-MAWR-fik ] (adjective): Describes having but a single form, structural pattern, or genotype.

The world of birds is full of monomorphic species- in which the male and the female look the same. In fact, many common backyard birds species are monomorphic, like Blue Jays, House Wrens and Mourning Doves. One of our favourite monomorphic species of bird, which we notice a lot in the winter, is the Black-capped chickadee!

Even though deciphering the sex of these birds can be tricky, since they don’t have very obvious differences in their plumage, it is often possible to determine the males from females based on their behavior. One very adorable behavioural example for Black-capped chickadees is a courtship display in which a male gives a two to three note “fee-bee” call. The female follows closely behind the male giving a “dee” call, to which the male can respond by offering her a little bit of food. The simple action of offering food can be an important way for chickadees, and other birds, to solidify the pair bond. As a nature loving observer, this is also a clue that can help us figure out who’s who of the look-alike birds in our backyards.

On your next winter visit to High Park, keep an eye out for Black-capped chickadees and other monomorphic bird species!

If you would like to grow your local bird knowledge this season, check out our “Birds of thr City” Online Naturalist Course for adults. In this course you will learn about city birds, what makes them so interesting, and practice some basic birding skills by getting to know the species you are most likely to find in the cities and backyards of southern Ontario. To learn more and register: https://highparknaturecentre.c…