Small packages

December 8, 2012 

If we were to name a Carolina Christmas bird, it would have to be the chickadee, that spunky, diminutive bundle of feathers that keeps wintertime bird feeders busy.

Chickadees, trim and distinctively clad, wear black caps and throat scarves that contrast with a gray back and white belly. They’re friendly neighbors with fearless souls. With a little patience and encouragement, they can learn to take a seed from between a person’s fingers.

There are several varieties of chickadees, including the black capped, which is the more northern version, almost identical in appearance to and easily confused with the Carolina variety. Most chickadees tend to avoid migrating. Instead, they lower their blood temperature during cold weather and seek hideaways from the chill. Being very observant, they’re among the first to show up at freshly filled bird feeders, where they appreciate a winter diet of sunflower seeds with, perhaps, a side dish of peanut or suet.

Small as they are, Carolina chickadees have done more than enough to earn the title of North Carolina’s Christmas bird.

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