|Conservation status||Still widespread and common, but surveys indicate declines in some areas.|
|Family||Chickadees and Titmice|
|Habitat||Mountain forests, conifers; lower levels in winter. Breeds in a variety of coniferous stands, including forests of pine, spruce, fir, or Douglas-fir, also groves of aspen in coniferous zones. Sometimes in lower habitats such as pine-oak or pinyon-juniper, and rarely breeds in cottonwood groves in lowlands. May wander to lowlands in winter, occupying planted conifers if available.|
Forages actively in trees, often feeding very high in conifers. Forages by gleaning food from twigs, often hanging upside down. Works along trunk or major branches, probing in bark crevices; has been seen using a wood splinter to probe in deep cracks. Sometimes takes food from while hovering. Will come to bird feeders for seeds or suet.
7-9, sometimes 5-12. White, dotted with reddish brown, sometimes unmarked. Incubation is probably by female only, about 14 days. Adult disturbed on nest will give a loud hiss, sounding like a snake. Young: Female spends much time with young at first, while male brings most food; later, both parents feed young. Age of young at first flight about 3 weeks.
Female spends much time with young at first, while male brings most food; later, both parents feed young. Age of young at first flight about 3 weeks.
Mostly insects, seeds, and berries. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including many caterpillars, beetles, and others; often feeds on insect eggs and pupae, as well as spiders and their eggs. Also eats many seeds, some berries and small fruits.
In some areas, numbers may be limited by a scarcity of good nesting sites. Nest site is usually in hole in tree, either natural cavity or old woodpecker hole, or a cavity enlarged or excavated by the chickadees. Usually 5-25' above the ground, sometimes in stumps only a few inches up. Same site may be used more than one year. Sometimes uses nest box, occasionally even nests in holes in ground. In natural site in tree, both sexes help excavate. Nest (built by female, probably with help from male) is soft foundation of bark fibers, moss, hair, feathers.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Mostly a permanent resident. Some (mainly young birds) move to lower elevations in winter, sometimes out into lowland valleys and plains.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA hoarse chick-a-zee-zee, zee. Spring song is similar to that of the Black-capped Chickadee, but 3-noted: fee-bee-bee, the bees at a lower pitch.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Mountain Chickadee
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Mountain Chickadee
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.