Carolina Chickadee

Parus carolinensis

Bill Horn, www.birdsofoklahoma.net

The Carolina Chickadee is a very familiar bird, although it is often confused with its cousin, the Black-capped Chickadee. Black-capped Chickadees live farther North. The two birds look almost identical.

Carolina Chickadees grow up to five inches long, with a black cap and throat, white cheeks and belly, and a gray back.

These birds live in forests, fields, and marshes. They often visit gardens and birdfeeders.

Copyright, Ohio Deptartment of Natural Resources

Erik Breden, The Otter Side

After mating, these birds build a nest in a natural cavity, old woodpecker hole, or rotten stub (top hollow part of an old dead tree). They can also dig out their own hole in a tree whose wood has been weakened by fungus, ants, or termites. Some of the trees they are most likely to dig into include American Beech, Black Willow, birches, and Sugar Maple.

The nest is a cup of grass, plant down (fluffy stuff from milkweed, cattails and other plants), feathers, fur (especially rabbit), moss, and insect cocoons.

The female chickadee sits on the eggs for almost two weeks. Another two weeks after they hatch, the young chickadees are ready to leave the nest.

Sometimes Carolina Chickadees will be parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds, but not very often.

Carolina Chickadees live in Northern Virginia year-round. In the winter, they form feeding flocks with other species of birds, including Downy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Tufted Titmice. Together, these birds will roam through the woods looking for food.

When chickadees feed, they demonstrate excellent balance. They can even cling to a branch and eat upside down.

Carolina Chickadess eat insects in all life stages (eggs, larve, pupae, adults), including aquatic insects emerging from the water, such as stoneflies and mayflies. They also eat katydids, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, true bugs, wasps, flies, bees, beetles, caterpillars, moths, plant lice, scale insects, ants, spiders, spider eggs, and gall flies. Fruits and seeds they eat include: Poison Ivy, blueberries, goldenrods, pine seeds, ragweeds, sunflowers, Virginia Creeper, blackberries, Black Cherry, and Yellow Poplar.

Predators of Carolina Chickadees include hawks (especially Sharp-shinned Hawks), owls, cats, climbing snakes, and chipmunks.

Carolina Chickadees are very territorial during the breeding season.

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Carolina Chickadee Song
Sound
Greg Gough
Carolina Chickadee on Bird Feeder
Video
Greg Gough

Relationships in Nature:

PREY/FOOD
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

True Katydid

Sharp-shinned Hawk

American Beech

Tufted Titmouse Mu

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth

Red-tailed Hawk

Black Willow

Downy Woodpecker Mu

Black and Yellow Argiope

Barred Owl

Sugar Maple

White-breasted Nuthatch Mu

Differential Grasshopper

Black Rat Snake

Eastern White Pine

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth SP

Crane Fly

Eastern Chipmunk

Black Oak

European Gypsy Moth SP

Organ-pipe Mud Dauber

Red Maple

Eastern Cottontail SP

Rabid Wolf Spider

Black Cherry

Brown-headed Cowbird Pa

Eastern Bloodsucking Conenose

American Elm

European Starling EC

Green Stinkbug

Eastern Redcedar

Godenrod

Yellow Poplar

Goldenrod Gall Fly

Black Locust

Goldenrod Spider

Sweetgum

Poison Ivy

American Sycamore

Highbush Blueberry

Smooth Crabgrass

Virginia Pine

Switchgrass

Common Ragweed

Bull Thistle

Yellow Poplar

Common Cattail

Black Carpenter Ant

Common Milkweed

Sassafras Weevil

White Cushion Moss

Spined Micrathena

Relationship to Humans:

Carolina Chickadees are often attracted to yards with birdfeeders. Because they also eat pest insects, they are good to keep around.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Chordate
CLASS
Bird
ORDER
Passeriformes
FAMILY
Paridae
GENUS
Parus
SPECIES
Parus carolinensis

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