When I moved from New York to Florida, I was a bit homesick. I found comfort in the chickadees that came to my backyard feeder. Up north the black-capped chickadee frequented our sunflower feeders. Here in Florida the Carolina chickadee, a bird that is almost identical, comes to our backyard feeders to eat sunflower seeds too.
These two species have black bibs on gray chests with black caps. Black-capped chickadees are slightly larger and have a bit more white on their napes, something you would never be able to distinguish from any distance.
Carolina chickadees live from southern Pennsylvania and New Jersey south to Florida and the black-capped lives from Pennsylvania and New Jersey north. Where the ranges overlap, the two species interbreed.
There is a slight difference in the way they sing chicka-dee-dee-dee and it is something I can recognize – to me it’s a chickadee with a southern accent.
Although the Carolina Chickadee population has declined a little, this bird is still common and widespread in the southern U.S.
I’m in South Jersey and wonder if my backyard birdies are Carolina or Black-capped Chickadees… I certainly can’t tell 🤷🏻♀️
Identifying the two chickadee species is difficult. There are subtle differences between the two, but it is tough to see those differences when they fly in for a sunflower seed and fly out to a perch to crack it open. The only chickadee species here in Florida is the Carolina chickadee, but this chickadee’s range overlaps with the black-capped chickadee where you live. And to matters worse, the two species often interbreed where their ranges overlap. Here is a reference you can consult to help ID the chickadees in your area: https://www.sibleyguides.com/bird-info/black-capped-chickadee/black-capped-carolina-chickadee/ Good Luck!
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