Family Tits and Chickadees (Paridae)

Least Concern

Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)


French: Mésange de Caroline German: Carolinameise Spanish: Carbonero de Carolina

Parus carolinensis


, 1834,

Charleston, South Carolina, USA


See P. atricapillus. Geographical variation clinal, with decrease in size and reduction in extent of pale edges of flight-feathers N to S, also paler from E to W; races intergrade widely in overlap areas. Mitochondrial DNA evidence indicates that E & W populations (which meet approximately along Mississippi–Alabama state lines) separated by c. 1 million years, but level of divergence does not influence plumage or vocal characteristics. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. c. atricapilloides (Lunk, 1952) – SC USA (S Kansas, Oklahoma and N & C Texas).
  • P. c. agilis (Sennett, 1888) – SE Oklahoma, SC & E Texas, SW Arkansas and W Louisiana.
  • P. c. extimus (Todd & Sutton, 1936) – S Missouri E to Ohio, S Pennsylvania and New Jersey, S to NW Tennessee, NW North Carolina and E Virginia.
  • P. c. carolinensis (Audubon, 1834) – N & E Arkansas, S Kentucky and Tennessee E to SE Virginia, S to E Louisiana, S Mississippi and N & C Florida.
  • Descriptive notes

    11·5–13 cm; 9–12 g. Medium-sized, black-capped chickadee with grey-brown upperparts. Nominate race has forehead to crown (including eye area) and nape... read more


    Most frequent call a high-pitched “chic-a-dee”, similar to that of P. atricapillus... read more


    Open broadleaf woods, mostly along rivers, streams and canals, also swamp-forest and secondary... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food mostly small invertebrates and their larvae and eggs, including moths (Lepidoptera), bugs (Hemiptera), bees, wasps and ants (... read more


    Season mid-Feb to early Jun; one brood. Monogamous, with lifelong pair-bond. Territorial, but some nests close together (c. 8 m apart);... read more


    Resident. Little movement, but singles recorded C Kansas, and vagrant in S Texas, Nebraska,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common throughout range. Some reduction in numbers recorded in N Florida.

    Recommended citation

    Gosler, A. & Clement, P. (2020). Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 February 2020).