Friday, July 28, 2023

Irresistible! Attract Carolina Chickadee to Your Feeder

Chickadees are a favorite feeder bird throughout the United States. This cutie is found in the East and Southeast.

 How do you attract Carolina Chickadees to your bird feeder? Follow these suggestions to attract Carolina chickadees to your yard.

Photo of Carolina Chickadee
N Lewis NPS. Public Domain

Why attract Carolina Chickadees to your bird feeder?

Carolina Chickadees are the smallest chickadees in North America. That makes them especially cute.

These birds are inquisitive and not timid. They are not easily scared away from your yard when you are outside.

Carolina Chickadees will eat from window feeders and can be observed at close range through your window.

These small sprites like most bird seeds and readily come to your feeder.

They are year-round residents, so once they start coming to your bird feeder, they will be present at all seasons.

They are a bit shy when other birds are present. They are not belligerent and will not fight with other birds.

Photo of Carolina Chickadee
Walfred. Flickr. CC-BY-2.0

What foods will attract Carolina Chickadees to your feeder?

Carolina Chickadees love black oil sunflower seeds. They take these one at a time and fly away with the seed to crack it open and eat it away from the feeder. Then they come right back for another.

If you feed mixed seed, these chickadees eat any sunflowers, peanuts and nuts. They leave the smaller millet for sparrows.

The best mixed bird seed that I have found is Wagner's Songbird Supreme (Amazon affiliate link). It is 50% sunflower seeds and doesn't have any cheap filler seed that birds won't eat. This seed attracts the largest variety of birds to your feeder.

Carolina Chickadees also love suet, especially in winter.

For my home feeders, I always purchase St Albans Bay Suet blocks (Amazon affiliate link). It comes in several flavors, including peanut and berry. They fit in required special suet cages, which are a type of bird feeder. 

Photo of Carolina Chickadee
Festive Coquette. Flickr. CC-BY-2.0

What kind of feeders do Carolina Chickadees like?

Carolina Chickadees will eat from any type of feeder. But perhaps a hopper feeder or tube feeder is best.

The reason to feed chickadees from tube feeders is that these feeders allow smaller finches, chickadees, and nuthatches to get food. But larger birds have a harder time eating from tube feeders.

I really love the way my iBorn tube feeder (Amazon affiliate link) looks, with its copper top.  A screwdriver takes off the lower perch and opens it up for cleaning. This feeder filled with black oil sunflower seeds attracts all types of finches, chickadees, and nuthatches. The smaller perches and lack of tray mean that you'll have fewer House Sparrows, Starlings, Doves, and Jays at this feeder.

Carolina Chickadees eat suet from special suet feeders. Suet blocks are locked into a cage so larger birds or mammals can't steal the whole block.

I bought a Nature's Way Upside-down suet feeder (Amazon affiliate link) a couple years ago and have been very happy with it. Chickadees, nuthatches, bushtits, and woodpeckers eat from it easily. But starlings, blackbirds, and jays can't hang upside down to get at the suet.

Carolina Chickadees will also eat mealworms--either live or dried. In summer, chickadees may switch to eating mostly insects. Then they won't come to the feeder as often. So feeding live mealworms in summer may bring them to the feeder.

I created this video on Carolina Chickadees at your feeder to accompany this article.

Where to place your bird feeder for Carolina Chickadees

Carolina Chickadees are tiny birds. Other birds tend to push them around at the feeder.

They would appreciate a separate sunflower seed feeder away from the hubbub of the sparrow feeders.

Once the Carolina Chickadees start coming to your main bird feeder, you might try setting up separate feeders for chickadees. They will come to small feeders on deck railings. They will come to window bird feeders. 

Photo of Carolina Chickadee
Festive Coquette. Flickr. CC-BY-2.0

How else can you attract Carolina Chickadees to your yard?

Carolina Chickadees will come to bird baths if they aren't too full. The shallower and smaller, the better. Place a rock or stick into the water. It should be high and dry at one end and gradually lead into the water.

They won't like deep or slippery bird baths.

Carolina Chickadees will also use nest boxes. If you purchase these, look for entry hole size of 1-1/8 inches. That's a bit smaller diameter than many bird nest boxes.

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Photo of Carolina Chickadee
N Lewis NPS. Public Domain

Problems with Carolina Chickadees: If you have attracted too many to your feeder

You won't have a problem with too many Carolina Chickadees at once.

However, in the fall of the year, chickadees and nuthatches (jays, too) will come to cache sunflower seeds. They take the seeds away and hide them. They lodge them into crevices in bark, drop them into holes in trees, even bury them. Then in winter they'll retrieve them and eat them.

If this is the case, and birds are eating, or stealing, too much bird seed, try rationing. Place in the feeder, only the amount of bird seeds the birds consume by noon. After that, don't feed them any more.

Carolina Chickadee FAQ

Ask questions in the comments below about attracting and feeding Carolina Chickadees and I'll add the answer here!


Why aren't birds coming to your feeder?

First in series: Irresistible! Attract Mourning Doves to your feeder

Next in series: Irresistible! Attract House Finches to your feeder

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