Who we study:

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadees are one of the most familiar birds in North America. These non-migratory forest birds can be found visiting feeders and in backyards across much of the United States and Canada, extending from southern Pennsylvania all the way to Alaska. Their simple Fee-Bee song and scolding chick-a-dee-dee calls set the backdrop for many of our daily walks and outdoor activities.

Carolina chickadee

Carolina chickadees are the southern relative of the black-capped chickadee. Found in the south eastern United States, from Florida north to Pennsylvania, this greyer and smaller species is also a common and familiar backyard bird. Also non-migratory, you can see Carolina chickadees throughout the year in forests and backyards in the southeast.

Carolina chickadee photo by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren - Carolina Chickadee, CC BY 2.0, link

What we study:

Black-capped and Carolina chickadees hybridize in a long and narrow zone of contact that extends from New Jersey to Kansas. Our research on this hybrid zone has used genomic and community science data to document the speed at which it is moving northwards and found that this movement is tightly linked to warming minimum winter temperatures. We’re continuing our work on this hybrid zone by investigating what causes hybrids between these two species to have poorer spatial cognition and problem solving abilities than either parent species (NSF IOS 1754898) and by studying the genomic basis of physiological adaptations and their breakdown in hybrid chickadees (NSF DEB 1928891).NSF logo


In the Press

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Video Press Release of This Work

The Pulse Listen to Scott talk about using eBird data to study avian hybridization 

All About Birds Article Warming Temperatures Are Pushing Two Chickadee Species—And Their Hybrids—Northward​

New York Times Article On The Cusp of Climate Change

Bird Watching Daily Warming temperatures are pushing Carolina and Black-capped Chickadees northward​

The Australian Crossbreed chickadees chart climate march

Phys.org Warming temperatures are pushing two chickadee species—and their hybrids—northward​

Futurity Hybrid Chickadees Move North With Warmer Weather

Cornell Chronicle Warming temperatures push chickadees northward​



Wagner DN, Curry RL, Chen N, Lovette IJ, Taylor SA. 2020. Genomic regions underlying metabolic and neuronal signaling pathways are temporally consistent outliers in a moving avian hybrid zone. Evolution. 74: 1498-1513.


McQuillan MA, Huynh AV, Taylor SA, Rice AM. 2017. Development of 10 novel SNP-RFLP markers for quick genotyping within the black-capped (Poecile atricapillus) and Carolina (P. carolinensis) chickadee hybrid zone. Conservation Genetic Resources 9: 261-264. DOI 10.1007/s12686-016-0667-z


Taylor SA, Curry RL, White TA, Ferretti V, Lovette IJ. 2014. Spatiotemporally consistent genomic signatures of reproductive isolation in a moving hybrid zone. Evolution 68: 3066-3081.  PDF

Taylor SA, White TA, Hochachka WM, Ferretti V, Curry RL, Lovette IJ. 2014. Climate Mediated Movement of an Avian Hybrid Zone. Current Biology 24: 671-676.  PDF

Associated Articles: Harr B, Price T. 2014. Climate Change: A Hybrid Zone Moves North. Current Biology 24: 230-232.  PDF