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For the Birders

By DALE GRAHAM

This column was originally printed in the October 10th, 1992 edition of the South Cheatham  Advocate.  

If you have been able to attract and identify the Nuthatch that we talked about a while back, you may have noticed his friends. For some reason, nuthatches seem to like traveling in groups that include other species of birds. Its favorite companions (at least in my yard) are the Chickadee and the Titmouse.

There are two types of chickadees that may be seen in our area, and they are so similar that you will probably not be able to tell them apart. The black-capped Chickadee is a small bird, approximately 4 1/2 inches in length, with a black head and throat, and white cheek patches. Its back is gray, with a light gray belly and slightly rusty sides. This chickadee lives mainly in the Northern United States, but winters as far south as our area.

The Carolina Chickadee is slightly smaller, and can be seen year around in our area. This bird is slightly smaller than the black-capped chickadee with less rust color on its sides, and gray edging on its wing feathers. The black on the throat and the gray­white of its chest and belly.

Both types are very friendly, and quite acrobatic. It is very easy to attract them, as they eat the same sunflower seeds as my other birds. Sometimes in the winter, I mix some seed with peanut butter, spread it on a pine cone, and hang it outside. The chickadees love it as do many other of my winter birds.

Another species which hangs around with these is the Tufted Titmouse. The titmouse is a lovely little bird about 5 1/2 inches in length, with a gray back, grayish­white face and belly and rust sides. The head is a darker gray, beginning at the beak and continuing to the top of its cardinal-like crest. These birds are friendly, like the chickadees and nuthatches with which it associates, and will also feed on sunflower seeds.

Titmice are like the Carolina Chickadees in that they do not migrate, so if you are able to attract them, they will be around all year. They travel in packs of from 3-8 birds, so if you see one, there should be more.

These birds can bring a lot of activity to your feeders year around, and they are great fun to watch. Good luck attracting them.

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