theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

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June 7, 2014

Randy's Natural World

Ada — The Carolina chickadee is a fairly common bird. It's often attracted to backyard feeders and it is this week's featured creature. A tiny bird, the Carolina Chickadee grows to about four to four-and-a-half inches long. When they do visit feeders, nervous chickadees will fly in, grab a seed and then fly quickly back to a tree where they are more comfortable.

Chickadees eat mostly insects and spiders in the summer, while including more seeds in winter. They readily visit standard and suet feeders year-round and, from my observations, prefer feeders in an elevated location to feeding on the ground.

Carolina chickadees are found in decidous and mixed woods throughout Oklahoma.

They nest in tree cavities and will make a home in a man-made nesting box, provided the size is right. Chickadee eggs are slightly larger than jelly beans.

You don't have to be a bird expert to know how chickadees got their name. Their song, chickadee-dee-dee, is commonly heard in trees of woodlands, suburbs and cities.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Carolina chickadee was named by famed naturalist John James Audubon while in South Carolina.

Chickadees are found throughout the United States and Canada. The Carolina chickadee's range runs from Texas to Kansas and states east. Black-capped chickadees are found up north and the mountain chickadee spans the west. Where their reanges overlap, Carolina chickadees and black-capped chickadees will hybridize.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology reports Carolina chickadees associate in flocks during winter. Each flock member has a rank; once spring arrives, the highest ranking individuals will nest within the flock’s territory. Lower ranking birds must travel farther to successfully claim a territory and many don’t nest that season. Throughout the year, members of pairs, families and flocks communicate with one another constantly.

For my next column, I will feature a bird that is often found with or near  Carolina chickadees, the tufted titmouse.

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