A Carolina in Georgia

Finally getting around to processing the rest of the shots form our birding trip to Georgia back in (looking down in shame) May of 2015. You at least have to give me some credit for trying to muscle through the incredible backlog. Truthfully, there is a reason I’ve been actively hesitant – is that a thing, let’s go with intentionally slow to get to this trip. One of the main reasons is I f’d up while out in the field there and almost got myself seriously injured. I’ve had a few experiences where I’ve skipped a few heartbeats due to something unexpected happening. One of those times was seeing Ron’s head almost smashed with a steel door. On a personal front, I came way to close to dangerous wildlife in the swamps of Georgia thanks to looking down my glass while walking and not watching the created void in front of me. I’ll get to that in a future post, but thought I’d start with a picture I took while I was heading out into the swamp.
Raven in Georgia May 2015

That’s our youngest, Raven. I laughed to myself when I saw this image come through the digital darkroom. He’s as cute as it gets, but has a serious attitude: “Hey, do you really think you are going to leave me here while you go off and play in the woods!?! Get your ass back here now.” Good thing that cockiness serves him well while competing in the agility ring – he also knows I’m a pushover for ear licks.

Guess I better get to the featured bird for today’s post. My shots are a bit weak for this series, but it is a +1 so I have to go with what I was able to get in the tin.
Carolina Chickadee found in Georgia May 2015

Hit the jump to see a few more mediocre shots if a bird I thought Ron didn’t have yet.

So, if you know your birds or happen to live just about anywhere in North America, you probably have at least heard of the Chickadee. They are pretty much everywhere from a Family perspective. Yet, you may be asking yourself why is a supposedly common bird just now getting its check on the birding list. The answer is at the species level. There a multiple species of the Chickadee. The Black-Capped variety was featured back in 2008 (link here) when I apparently didn’t understand the objective of wildlife photography was to be able to actually tell it was a bird.

Carolina Chickadee found in Georgia May 2015

I am also pretty sure I have the Mountain species thanks to a trip out to Yellowstone a few years later (link here). Again, not the greatest shot, but at least in focus. I did do a quick check and looks like I forgot to count the Mountain in my list (hmmm will have to put that on my list of to-dos). So the Mountain is pretty distinct as it has a white line above the eye. It also stays out in the west. The other easy to tell variety is the Chestnut as it is the only one with well, chestnut on its back and sides of the breast – it also hangs out even closer to the west coast. Now telling the Black-Capped from the Carolina, well that is a completely different story.

Carolina Chickadee found in Georgia May 2015

Those two varieties look practically identical. Both have the solid black cap, black throat patch, grey back/wings with a buffy breast. Come upon two of these together in the field and forget about figuring out which is which without hitting them with tranqs and studying their wing coverts for a bit of extra white on the edges. The good thing (for the birds at least) is you really do not need to resort to darting them to distinguish the species since they shouldn’t really be found together – their regions are somewhat isolated from each other. The Black-Capped probably has the largest overall region, but they tend to stay in the northern half of North America.

Carolina Chickadee found in Georgia May 2015

The Carolina variety prefers the southeast. Therefore, the easiest way to make sure you get a Carolina variety versus their twin the Black-Capped is to drive to the swamps of Georgia, find a bird that looks like a Chickadee and take a picture of it. Literally that easy. When I was bragging to Ron about getting this +1 thinking he wouldn’t have one, he went and looked at his Florida shots from a few years back and found one – dammit! Usually when I bring a new bird to you, I like to dig in and find some interesting facts to share. A small bit of takeaway education in appreciation for you taking the time to read my post. Problem is, Cornell has very little in the category of interesting when it comes to the description of this species. Unless, of course, you find it intriguing that some of them are “flock switchers”. The horror, the horror. Imagine that, the audacity to be part of one gang and switch their alliance to other flocks under the impression they have better video games. Talk about one step from hedonism, what’s next, fornicating with Cats!?!

Without much fodder in the history bucket, all I really have left is to give Ron his final angle.

Carolina Chickadee found in Georgia May 2015

Tails up everyone, have a wonderful day – spring is on its way.

8 thoughts on “A Carolina in Georgia”

    1. Actually they do have slightly different sound, but to be honest, I do not have the ear to tell them apart. The Carolina has a 4 note song where the Black-Capped sticks to 2-3. The Carolina is also a lot faster and slightly higher than the Capped, but again, those are really relative so not having both together is probably a crap shoot. Which is why I simply travel to a non-overlapping region ha! – Thanks for stopping by … looks like the spring is starting to emerge in your neck of the canals.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Regional split? or is the dna difference enough to give it full species rights? These almost identical pairings do my head in. In Europe some species have been split (in my view so some birders can add another tick to their life lists! Oh damn I gained a few as well) and the only means of separating them is by call or dna analysis! I have know of birders to watch a silent vagrant so hard that if it drops a feather or takes a dump they have material to send off to get checked! I kid you not.

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    1. There are some regional differences in both song and coloring of their feathering, just too subtle for me (and thus likely others) to really tell out on the field – that’s why tranq guns come in handy ha. We’ve had some splits recently as well – like the Western Scrub-Jay which split into 3. I didn’t even gain a tick there, since I only have the new Woodhouse’s ugh. Can’t believe a birder would go to that length to signature a bird – at some point you have to stop and ask yourself “what have I become”. Thanks for sharing – apparently Europe has a whole different level of birding over there – I still recall you mentioning you gave up your pager as a result. Looks like them butters are starting to emerge over there. Can’t wait to see more of you macro shots.

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  2. Nice shots of the Carolina Chickadee! Yes, I have a total of one shot, but it was taken in North Carolina, actually. I was traveling back from there and Googled birding hotspots and found out that the next morning at 8:00 there was a local Audubon field trip in the town I was staying overnight in! I was surprised at the number of birders, maybe 40, that were there. One of the (three!) guides asked what kinds of birds we were hoping to find that morning. When he got to me and I said a Carolina Chickadee, all the other birders turned and looked at me. Awkward. Then the guide said, “Oh, you must not be from around here,” and when I said yes the birders all relaxed again. I took great satisfaction later in getting lots of compliments for seeing a Green Heron and a Carolina Wren that the other birders missed, but I have to admit I was chasing the songs of the Carolina Chickadees all morning and missed a shot of one sitting two feet in front of my face before I finally got the one shot.

    I really like the second photo. I didn’t realize that those final angles were for me!


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    1. I remember you telling me that story and being surprised that a) there was a very convenient birding outing and b) that they didn’t immediately assume you were a visitor. To be honest, I’ve been surprised by even locals who get +1’s on really common birds – like the White Pelican that will occasionally show up in the Illinois River yet anyone can travel 20 minutes away and see thousands hanging out at Emiquon. Then I realize that everyone starts at zero and just happy there are others crazy enough to like birding. So looks like I will not be picking up any ground with the Carolina Chickadee – darn.

      Liked by 1 person

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