Saturday, January 17, 2009

Camera Critters: Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)

The winner of our Most Frequently at the Feeder award here in the Ozarks. The Carolina Chickadee is a year round resident, but we seem to have many more of them in the winter.

Many thanks to Nate for taking the time to correct my original identification of this bird as a Black-capped Chickadee. According to the Cornell site linked below the range of the Black-capped Chickadee is across southern two-thirds of Canada and northern two-thirds of the United States. The Carolina Chickadee pictured above is a southeastern counterpart to the more widespread Black-capped Chickadee. Based upon his birding experience in the Ozarks, Nate says Black-caps are generally found on the north side of the Missouri River, Carolinas to the south.

Physical characteristics distinguishing the two species are: 1.) Carolinas have more grayish flanks while those of the Black-Caps are brown. 2.) The black bib area on the Carolinas is more cleanly demarcated than the more rough transition found on the BCs. (Carolinas are also smaller, but that's often difficult to distinguish without side by side comparisons.)

Since the social behavior of the two species is quite similar, I'll leave the information about the Black-Capped Chickadee at the bottom of this post. Pages dedicated to the Carolina are: Cornell University and Wikipedia.

Thanks again to Nate for the correction. Be sure to visit his birding blog, The Drinking Bird.

(Edited by Marvin 1/20/2009.)

Cool facts from the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology:

► The Black-Capped Chickadee hides seeds and other food items for later recovery. Each item is placed in a different spot and a bird can remember thousands of hiding places.

► The chickadee's simple-sounding calls have been found to be extremely complex and language-like. They code information on identity and recognition of other flocks as well as predator alarms and contact calls.

► Breeding pairs and nonbreeders join up into flocks outside of the breeding season. Nonbreeders may be members of several flocks, with a different position in the dominance hierarchy of each flock.

More information is also available from Wikipedia.

Please click the logo above to participate and/or find more Camera Critters photos.