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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Carolina Chickadee -- Parus carolinensis

RANGE: Resident from southern Kansas, central Illinois, central Ohio, and central New Jersey south to central and southeastern Texas, the Gulf Coast and northern peninsular Florida. Wanders casually to the north and southward.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits coniferous and deciduous woodlands; prefers forest and forest edge habitats similar to, but more moist and warm than, those preferred by the black-capped chickadee. Also frequents swamps, thickets, second-growth woodlands, parks, and brushy areas.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Standing dead trees for excavating cavities.

NEST: Usually excavates nest holes in dead, decayed tree trunks or in dead limbs of living trees. Occasionally nests in old woodpecker holes or natural cavities. (The nest and eggs of this species cannot be distinguished from those of the black-capped chickadee.) Chooses willow, pine, cottonwood, poplar, pear, and cherry for nest trees.

FOOD: Has very similar food habits to those of the black-capped chickadee.

REFERENCES: Bent 1946, Brewer 1961, 1963, Johnsgard 1979, Pitts 1976.

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