Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bird Profile: Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

Have you ever been eating dinner at Cowpie and heard a sudden racket of high-pitched notes mixed with chickadee-dee-dee swarming above you in the big oak tree? Or have you been enjoying the peaceful silence of the Swannanoa River only to be suddenly surrounded by noises high in the trees that you can't locate? One of our most common resident birds here in North Carolina is the aptly-named Carolina Chickadee, Poecile carolinensis.

Listen to the songs and calls of the Carolina Chickadee by clicking here.

This small black and cream colored bird travels in flocks with other birds gleaning insects from leaves and bark. Despite their flocking tendencies, Carolina Chickadees actually defend a good amount of individual space within the feeding flock--keeping a distance of 2 to 5 feet between themselves and the other birds in the group. Chickadees eat insects in the summer months and add seeds to their diets in the winter (so chances are they'll be at your feeder).

How to identify:
Chickadees have distinctive markings to distinguish them from other bird species--Carolina Chickadees have a sleek black cap with a white wedge below opening from the beak to the back of the neck. Their throats are also black, which looks like a black triangle below their chin. Their wings and tail are gray, while their body is a buffy cream color. Chickadees in general are small and their posture makes them look round and puffy. They often hang upside-down in trees while they forage. Carolina Chickadees do not migrate, therefore they are referred to as residents. The species' range is in the southeast quarter of the United States, from the center of Texas up to the midline of Illinois and over to the coast and down. For a full range map, click here.

Next time you hear a racket above you in the trees, instead of being annoyed look up and try to see one of these little acrobats snagging its lunch!

All information from

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Introducing...the Warren Wilson College Bird Crew!

For years, Warren Wilson students have wandered around this beautiful campus and felt at home among the trees and in the wide-open fields. Cows mooing in the pastures feel like friends, because their presence is constant and reassuring. But what about in the trees? Birds are constantly calling and chattering--their unwavering presence too helps us feel at home. How many Wilson students have wondered what bird they were hearing or why it was acting the way it was? Now, with the help of the Warren Wilson College Bird Crew, you can learn to identify the Carolina Chickadees, the White-breasted Nuthatches, the Hermit Thrushes, and the variety of warblers that make their way through campus every spring and fall without fail, among others. These birds, once you know them, will become your friends and deepen your roots to this place that so many students have called home for four years.

The new WWC Bird Crew focuses on Education and Research. We will lead weekly bird walks on campus and weekend birding field trips off campus to help interested community members learn about the birds that surround them. This blog will serve as a place for us to share information about the birds the WWC community sees everyday. We will do a profile of a new species every week. We will also write about conservation issues on campus and in our surrounding region of Western North Carolina. We are also currently assessing the many research opportunities on campus in order to offer future NSS students options to do their research at Wilson and further explore conservation issues here.

 Join us on a bird walk Monday and Wednesday mornings from 8 to 9:20am and on Tuesday evenings from 6 to 7:20pm. The morning walks meet at Morse, and the evening walk meets at Sage Circle. These days and times are subject to change depending on who shows up, so keep an ear out for updates.