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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Cavity Makers

Carolina Chickadee, Poecile carolinensis

Carolina chickadee in a coniferous tree

Carolina Chickadees are small passerine birds that breed in deciduous and mixed forests in the southeastern United States from late March to early July. They are commonly found in woodlands, suburban areas with mature trees, and forest edges, which are characterized by a mix of oak, hickory, pine, and other deciduous trees where insects and seeds are abundant during the breeding season.

They forage in trees, shrubs, and on the ground for caterpillars, spiders, aphids, beetles, and seeds from various plants, including oak and hickory. They may also feed on berries and small fruits.

Carolina Chickadees exhibit acrobatic foraging behavior, often hanging upside down to access food. They are known for their habit of caching food in hidden locations, which helps them survive periods of food scarcity.

Courtship involves males singing to attract females and performing a series of fluttering displays and calls. Males may also present food to females as part of the courtship ritual. Pair bonding is strengthened through mutual preening and feeding.

Both males and females may excavate cavities or claim natural or abandoned cavities in dead or decaying trees, often in oak or pine trees. These cavities are usually located between 1 to 7 meters above the ground. They prefer forested areas and suburban settings with a mix of tree types. The nest is lined with moss, animal hair, plant fibers, and sometimes feathers.

Carolina Chickadees will also nest in bird houses. Bird houses should have an entrance hole of about 3 cm in diameter and should be mounted on trees or posts at a height of 1.5 to 3 meters in wooded areas, parks, or suburban gardens. See Carolina Chickadee Bird House Plans

Egg laying occurs in mid to late spring, with the female laying 5 to 8 white eggs with fine reddish-brown spots. Incubation lasts about 12 to 14 days and is primarily done by the female. Both parents feed the chicks a diet of insects and small seeds upon hatching.

Chicks learn to forage under the guidance of adults, who demonstrate how to find and extract food. As they develop, chicks practice pecking and gleaning techniques but remain vulnerable to predators and harsh weather conditions.

Chick fledging occurs about 16 to 18 days after hatching. Continued adult guidance is crucial as fledglings refine their foraging skills. Their diet gradually expands to include a wider variety of insects and seeds.

Carolina Chickadees are generally non-migratory, though some populations may exhibit short-distance movements in response to food availability. They tend to remain within their breeding range year-round.