Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice

 
Tits, Chickadees, and titmice make up the family of Paridae which is a large family of perching birds that live mainly in the Northern Hemisphere and Africa. The birds in this family have short, pointed beaks, strong feet, and rounded wings. They mainly like to eat insects but will also eat fruit.
 
A Black-capped Chickadee sitting in a tree on Shoreline Drive. Black-capped Chickadees have black caps on their head, gray wings, and a white belly. They are small birds.
Black-capped Chickadee sitting in a tree along Shoreline Drive.
NPS Photo/J. Chapman

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

• Black-capped Chickadees hide seeds and other food items to eat later. They place the items they have collected in different spots and can remember the thousands of different hiding places that they put their food.
• During the fall season, Black-capped Chickadees allow brain neurons containing old information to die and they replace them with new neurons. They do this so they can adapt to changes in their social flocks and their environment.
• They love to eat seeds, berries, plant matter, and insects. And they will sometimes eat bits of fat and meat from frozen dead animals.
• These chickadees love to live in nest boxes, small natural cavities, or abandoned Downy Woodpecker holes.

Identification Information:

• Size: Sparrow-sized or smaller (Small)
• Color: The head and chest of the bird is black. They have white cheeks with a soft gray back. Their wing feathers are a dark gray with white edges. Their bellies are an off white.
 
Carolina Chickadee at Schoolhouse Ridge North. The bird is standing on a branch and we have a side profile of it and its mouth is open like it is singing a song.
Carolina Chickadee singing in a tree on Schoolhouse Ridge North.
© Bill Telfair

Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)

• Carolina Chickadees and Black-capped Chickadees will sometimes hybridize and breed with one another. The hybrids are then able to sing songs of either species or sometimes they sing something in between the two.
• The Carolina Chickadee likes to eat a mixture of plants and animals. They really love insects and spiders. To get insects from leaves and tree bark they usually hang upside down and they hold seeds and insects in their feet when they are eating so they can peck into them.
• During the winter months, Carolina Chickadees live in flocks of 2 to 8 birds and defend the areas where they live against other flocks.

Identification Information

• Size: Sparrow sized or smaller (Extra Small/Small)
• Color: Carolina Chickadees have a black cap on their heads and a black bib on their neck/chest. The black cap and bib is separated by white cheeks. Their back feathers, wings, and tail are all a light gray.
 
All of the above information is an abbreviated version of information gathered from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Please visit their website for more in-depth bird information.
 

Last updated: September 16, 2019

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Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
National Park Service
PO Box 65

Harpers Ferry , WV 25425

Phone:

304 535-6029

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