Description 4-1/2" - 5" Dusky, black-capped, and black-
bibbed chickadee, with chestnut flanks and back.
Habitat Mature conifers, especially low-elevation,
coastal, coniferous forests of pines, cedar, tamarack, and
hemlock. Typically found in edge habitat, along streams, and
in adjacent deciduous woodlands.
Diet A variety of insects and invertebrates, including
wasps, beetles, flies, caterpillars, and spiders; also seeds
from the cones of coniferous trees, and some fruit pulp.
Chestnut-backed Chickadees store food in the fall and
retrieve it in winter.
Nesting The breeding season begins anytime from mid-
March to early April. They excavate their own nest sites, but
will use an existing tree cavity; particularly pine, oak,
Douglas fir, or rotted snags.
5-8 creamy-white, non-glossy, eggs are sometimes
unmarked, sometimes red, reddish brown, and brown
specks are distributed all over the egg or wreathed at the
large end of the egg.
Incubations appears to be by female only, lasting for 11–12
days. Young are tended to by both parents, and leave the
nest at 21 days.
Range Resident from coastal Alaska south to central
California; also in western ranges of Rocky Mountains in
southern British Columbia, southern Alberta, and western
During some colder winters Chestnut-backed Chickadees
may wander short distances, mostly as a result of food
shortages. For the most part, however, they are permanent
residents. The species is currently undergoing a range
expansion to the south and to the east.
Voice Lacks a whistled song; but an accelerated series
of chips may function as song. A squeaky chick-a-dee,
somewhat shriller and faster than that of other chickadees.
Often simply utters a thin tsee-deee and thin lisping notes.
Discussion In the coastal forests of the Northwest,
where the Chestnut-backed and Black-capped chickadees
overlap, the former prefers the top half of conifers, while the
latter feeds in the lower half of trees, very frequently oaks.
Thus they do not compete for space or food even within the