Photo: Bob Steele/Vireo

Mexican Chickadee

Poecile sclateri

The southernmost of the chickadees, this bird is common in mountain forests over much of Mexico. It barely enters our area, crossing the border only to the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona and the Animas Mountains of New Mexico. Most birders encounter it in the Chiricahuas, where it ranges through the Douglas-firs at high elevations. In late summer, after nesting, Mexican Chickadees join mixed flocks with various warblers and other birds.
Conservation status Numbers probably stable in limited range in United States. May be vulnerable to loss of habitat in Mexico.
Family Chickadees and Titmice
Habitat Conifers in mountains. In limited range in United States, breeds in mountains in open ponderosa pine forest and in higher, denser forests of spruce and Douglas-fir. May range down into pine-oak forest and sycamore groves in winter. Farther south, in Mexico, lives in various habitats from high mountain fir forest down into oak woodlands.
The southernmost of the chickadees, this bird is common in mountain forests over much of Mexico. It barely enters our area, crossing the border only to the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona and the Animas Mountains of New Mexico. Most birders encounter it in the Chiricahuas, where it ranges through the Douglas-firs at high elevations. In late summer, after nesting, Mexican Chickadees join mixed flocks with various warblers and other birds.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly by hopping among twigs and branches and gleaning food from surface, often hanging upside down to reach underside of branches. Sometimes takes food while hovering, and occasionally catches flying insects in mid-air. May hammer on galls with bill to break them open and pull out insect larvae. Unlike many chickadees, not known to store food.


Eggs

5-9. White, with reddish brown dots concentrated at larger end. Incubation is by female only, incubation period not well known. Female may cover eggs with nest material when leaving nest. Male feeds female during incubation period. Young: Female broods young at first, while male brings most food; later, both parents feed young. Adult may sweep outside of nest entrance with crushed beetles; chemicals from these insects may help repel predators. Age of young when leaving nest not well known.


Young

Female broods young at first, while male brings most food; later, both parents feed young. Adult may sweep outside of nest entrance with crushed beetles; chemicals from these insects may help repel predators. Age of young when leaving nest not well known.

Diet

Mostly insects, probably some seeds. Diet is not well known, but probably consists mostly of insects, including caterpillars, beetles, and others. Probably also eats seeds.


Nesting

Breeding behavior is not well known. Nest site is in hole in tree, usually 10-40' above ground, sometimes higher; can be just a few inches up in stumps. Adults may enlarge natural cavity, but details poorly known. Also will use nest boxes. Nest (apparently built by female) has foundation of bark fibers and moss, lining of soft moss, animal hair.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Migration

Mostly a permanent resident. In Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona, some birds move down into lower canyons in winter.

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Migration

Mostly a permanent resident. In Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona, some birds move down into lower canyons in winter.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A husky chick-a-dee-dee-dee, huskier and lazier than that of the Mountain Chickadee.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.