Backyard Birds

Chestnut-backed Chickadees

The Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Parus rufescens, is found in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and western Canada — southern Alaska to central California. It is a permanent resident within its range. Its habitat is low elevation coniferous and mixed coniferous/deciduous forests.

Although chestnut-backed chickadees are non-migratory they sometimes fly short distances in winter when their food supply gets low. They usually move to lower elevations in the same area when winter starts and move back up to higher elevations in late summer.

Nesting / Breeding:

It is a cavity-nester, usually utilizing an abandoned woodpecker hole, but sometimes excavating on its own. It lays 5-8 (sometimes 9) eggs per clutch.

Chestnut-backed chickadees use lots of fur and hair to make their nests. Their nests are actually 50% fur and hair. The most common hair they use comes from deer, rabbits, and coyotes. The adult chickadees also make a layer of fur about a centimeter thick which is used to cover the eggs on the nest whenever they leave the nest.

Diet / Feeding:

Its food is largely insects and other invertebrates (= animals without internal skeleton, such as larvae, earthworms, millipedes, snails, spiders) gleaned from foliage. Chestnut-backed Chickadees take some seeds, especially those of conifers, and fruit.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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