Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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Species Acct.
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  Order Passeriformes
   Suborder Passeres - Oscines (Song Birds)
      Parvorder Passerida (Superfamily Sylvioidea)
         Family Paridae - Penduline-Tits, Tits, Chickadees
            Subfamily Parinae - Titmice, Chickadees
  Passerines are generally smaller than non-passerines. They have a perching foot with three toes directed forward and the one backward with locking tendons to facilitate perching when their tendons are flexed. All passerines scratch by bringing the foot over the wing. Incubation ranges from 11 -21 days. Young hatch blind with little or no down and spend 10-15 days or so in the nest - development is rapid and parents provide care beyond fledging.
Oscines are passerines with complex syringeal musculature used to produce varied vocalizations. 
Sylvioidea includes nuthatches, creepers, wrens, tits, kinglets, and Old World Warblers.
Tits are small passerines with short, conical bills and rounded wings. The upper bill is kinetic. They are mainly arboreal and forage actively on limbs and twigs. They have specialized leg muscles facilitating their ability to hang upside down when feeding. They often form social groups in winter. They may cache reserves of food. They nest and roost (often communally) in holes. They readily use feeders. Their song is helpful in their identification.
 
Parids in the net
 
     
  Black-capped Chickadee, Poecile atricapillus
 
     Cornell     USGS     Wiki     EoLL
        ABSENT
            WOODLAND, PARKS, SUBURBS
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  The Black-capped Chickadee is the common tit spanning the northern half of the US and Canada west to the Pacific coast in Alaska. They have a gray body and wings. They have a black cap and a black bib with contrasting white cheeks and face. The flanks have a light tawny wash in fresh adults.
The Carolina Chickadee is the common tit in the southeast. To the casual observer the two species are identical. They overlap to some extent in the southern Appalachians.
   Overall, the Black-capped is brighter and more colorful with more contrasting markings. It is larger (5.25 " long vs. 4.75" for the Carolina), slightly more massive (11 g vs. 10.5 g), fluffier, larger-headed, and longer tailed with a darker tail and wings that have brighter white edges. Its cheek patch is bright white (the Carolina's patch grays toward the nape). It has a greenish back and buffy flanks - the Carolina is duller gray.
   Actually, the best distinction is the song. The Black-capped Chickadee says "Oh dear" or "feebee" with the second note lower than the first (sometimes it sounds three-noted - the second note may be slightly broken). The Carolina's song is a three to five note song on different pitches with each note clearly separated - "see bee see bay" and other variations. The Carolina Chickadee call is higher pitched and more rapid (5-7 "zee" notes/sec vs. 3-4 in Black-capped).
Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee
Cashiers, about 3,500'.
east of the Continental Divide.
Note the long tail and
white cheeks.
       
  RANGE: Atlantic Coast from Newfoundland and Delmarva Peninsula west across the US from the Ohio River valley, Colorado, and Oregon north to central Canada and west to the Pacific Ocean in Alaska. They are restricted to wooded habitats.
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood? They excavate or enlarge a cavity and line it with plant down, moss, hair, and feathers. This requires 10-14 days. Both sexes help build the nest. The female lays 6-8 eggs which she incubates for 12-13 days. Development is altricial. Both sexes tend the young. Chicks fledge after 13-18 days.
   The excavation phase of nesting appears to be important.
  DIET: Insects, seeds and berries - varies with season. Summer diet is mostly insects. In winter feeds on insects (eggs and pupae), seeds, berries, small fruits, and the fat of dead animals (and suet at the feeder). They are common at feeders in winter. They forage amid twigs and branches, gleaning food from the surface and often hanging upside down to feed. It may also take food while hovering and may flycatch. They may store food and return to their cache later.
  VOICE: Above. Song is a two-note phrase, "Oh dear."
  NOTES:
   Potter: Black-capped Chickadees breed mostly in the high-altitude spruce-fir forests above 4,000'. They withdraw to lower elevations and may mingle with Carolina Chickadees in winter. Hybrids are possible in the mountains. They would not be found along the coast.
  ●  Absent. Song is the best trait to distinguish them from Carolina Chickadees as you move inland and north (although it has been documented that populations in the transition zone may sing the other species typical song if exposed during their learning period).
    Feeder Window feeders, Louise Ayer Hatheway School of Conservation Education, Massachusetts Audubon Society, Concord, MS. Used by William H. Drury, Jr. to record color-banded chickadees in his study of social groups of Black-capped Chickadees.  
   
   

Reflections - Parids in the net

   Over the years, we have caught a number of Black-capped and Carolina Chickadees in mist nets. They are not my favorite bird in the net but with experience they are kind of neat. First, they don't always lay quietly in the bag of the net that captured them. Being small, they weave themselves through several parts of the net and bunch as many as 20 or more threads around their legs. Removal of chickadees from the nets is the graduation exam for would-be banders.
   Birds are removed from mist nets by freeing the feet (first), then holding them carefully by the lower legs as the remaining threads are backed off the feathers. During this phase, chickadees pound your finger nail with their mandible or attempt to knaw at your finger itself. They do this with bright eyes and cocked heads as though they are in control.
       
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