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Species Description

Carolina Chickadee

Poecile carolinensis


Species Image

Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Paridae

Description

Black cap; black throat and lower neck (like a bib); white cheek patches; white chest and belly; gray back, wings, and tail; buffy patches on the flanks. 12 cm (4.75 in) in length. The Carolina Chickadee's call is chick-a-dee-dee-dee or a shortened version of the same. The song of this species is usually four whistled notes, fee-bee fee-bay.

Life Cycle

The breeding season begins in early April, peaks later that month until early May, and extends through mid-June. Breeding habitat includes a variety of wooded and forested areas. This species is a cavity nester and will nest in snags, trees, rotten fenceposts, or nest boxes. It will excavate its own cavity, use an old woodpecker cavity, or find a natural cavity. The cavity is lined with moss, plant material, down, and feathers. The female lays 5-8 (usually 6) eggs that both adults incubate for 11-12 days. The young are altricial and fledge 13-17 days after hatching.

Natural History

The Carolina Chickadee prefers forested or wooded habitats. It eats primarily insects and also spiders, fruits, and seeds. It forages by searching among tree branches, trunks, pine cones, and dead leaf clusters. It also frequents bird feeders. This species is a year-round resident, and does not migrate.

Range

Carolina Chickadee Region Map The Carolina Chickadee is found mostly in the Southeast, but its range extends as far north as Delaware, central Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois and as far west as Oklahoma and central Texas. In the Southeast, this species is common to very common throughout except for extreme southern Florida.

Conservation Status

This species is common in the Southeast, and is not targeted for any special attention.

Similar Species

The species most similar to the Carolina Chickadee is the Black-capped Chickadee. The Black-capped Chickadee is slightly larger and has a lower pitch to the chick-a-dee-dee-dee call. The Black-capped Chickadee also has a shorter song, being 2 or 3 whistled notes, fee-bee or fee-bee-bee. The song is the most reliable identifier, because their appearances are very similar. The bib of the Black-capped Chickadee is slightly larger and the buff color on the flanks is more extensive.