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backyard birds


Carolina Chickadee

Description of the Carolina Chickadee

This small song bird known for their chickadee-dee-dee call has white cheeks that separate the black on the top of their head and their grey bodies is closely related to the Black-capped Chickadee more common in northern parts of the country.

Part of the tit family, these little birds are around 5 inches long and have long tails. They weigh less than a half an ounce.

The Carolina Chickadee uses an interesting energy conservation tool in the winter called Torpor. This is an intentional state of hypothermia. The Carolina Chickadees find a safe, protected place to rest and then lower their body temperature to the point of appearing lifeless.

They can stay this way for over 12 hours. Never handle a bird found in this state since the shock of being grabbed up by your big old hand could actually cause the death of this tiny creature.

Longevity and Molting of the Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadees molt once a year and banding studies indicate that the lifespan of a Carolina Chickadee is in the wild can be as long as 10 years, 11 months.

Family Life of the Carolina Chickadee

If you can’t tell a Carolina Chickadee from a Black-Capped Chickadee, don’t feel bad, they often can’t tell themselves apart — which has led to hybrid couplings and offspring.

They typically nest in tree-holes that occur naturally, or have been created by a woodpecker, or they will dig out their own nest area and line it with moss or pin needles and other soft materials. On occasion they will also nest in birdhouses you put up.

The dominant male Chickadee in a flock, will drive off other males forcing them to find new territory. Chickadee couples may remain together for several years.

The female does all the nesting and the male brings her food when she’s incubating the 3-10 white and brown spotted eggs she lays. They hatch one brood per year and both parents feed the chicks and remove any droppings from the nest.

They don’t migrate, even in particularly harsh winters, but they do flock with other birds such as titmice, warblers and nuthatches when those birds migrate.

What Do Carolina Chickadees Eat?

The other birds like keeping company with the Chickadees because they will sound off when they find a good food source. They are like a restaurant app for the bird world.

As omnivores, they are usually content with insects in the more temperate months, but will welcome seeds and fruits in the winter. They may not just stay at the feeder and gorge themselves, however…

Quite often Chickadees will take food and (like squirrels) they will hide it in anticipation of tough times. They usually stuff it in crevices and nooks and crannies (usually in trees) for later consumption when food supplies are more limited. Don’t worry, though, your seeds won’t go to waste… they have excellent little birdy brains and will remember where they put it when they need it.

Recent scientific studies indicate that during the winter the Chickadee’s little brain actually grows larger to hold all the “where did I hide the food” information and returns to normal size when the weather eases up and food is more plentiful!

They are tough little birds that enjoy Black-Oil Sunflower and Sunflower Chips and won’t hesitate to crack through whole peanuts. From our Classic Buffet Blend to Critter Mix, this little songbird is sure to find something they like in just about any Song of America Blend.


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