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!

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