Feeding Chickadees in Ottawa

Feeding chickadees can be a lot of fun and it’s a great activity to do with children. Here are four places in the Ottawa area where you can feed them. If you’re lucky, you might even have some nuthatches visit you.


  1. Jack Pine Trail (Moodie Drive)
  2. Mer Bleue (Ridge Road)
  3. Sarsaparilla Trail (Old Richmond Road)
  4. Shirley’s Bay (Shirley Boulevard)

The chickadees at Shirley’s Bay are shyer and will require more time and patience. If you have children with you, I recommend the other locations over this one.

Tips for Feeding the Birds

Feeding chickadees couldn’t be easier. They practically demand it of you! Black-capped chickadees love sunflower seeds. You can purchase sunflower seeds at most grocery and bulk stores. Avoid seeds with added salt or flavouring.

When you arrive at a trail, walk along the path until you hear or see the birds. Once you spot them, stand still and extend your hand with the birdseed. It won’t take long until one of them notices you and the rest follow. The key is to be patient and still. The birds at these locations are used to being fed.

In the wintertime, Jack Pine trail is full of bird feeders. Looking for one is an easy way to find chickadees. Even though there is another food source available, some birds will still come to you.

Sometimes children are nervous about having birds land on them, let them place the seeds on the ground and watch from a distance. That way they can get used to the birds and they won’t cause them undue stress.

A bluejay and nuthatch eat sunflower seeds
If you’re lucky, you might also see blue jays and nuthatches.

Feeding Chickadees in the Winter

I recommend feeding chickadees in the wintertime as they are already being fed and food is harder to come by in the cold months. Some people oppose bird feeding and they have some good reasons. I’ve written a post about the potential benefits and drawbacks of feeding birds. Nature Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Federation has tips and best practices for feeding birds at feeders.

While bird feeding is widely accepted in Canada, feeding other wildlife is not and can actually cause harm. Please, do not feed other wildlife.

If you use this advice, let me know how it goes in the comments below. You can also tag me on Instagram (@jenna.amirault) in any pictures you take.


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