Identifying Black-capped and Carolina Chickadees
In most places, it’s easy to separate these two chickadees by looking at the map. Where their ranges meet, it may be impossible to identify most individuals, because of the possibility of hybrids. But they are still worthy of close study, wherever we may see them. If we take time to look and listen for these subtle differences, they can help us to build up our powers of observation. Besides, chickadees are delightful birds: spunky, energetic, full of personality, and always worth watching.
Black-capped chickadee. To separate it from Carolina chickadee, we might notice the strong contrast in the wings and the very large white cheek patch. However, a more sure-fire field mark is the fact that it's sitting in the snow in northern Michigan, far from the range of its Carolina cousin. (Photo by Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman)
Carolina chickadee in Hanover, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Henry McLin/Flickr Creative Commons)