Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Paridae | [latin] Poecile rufescens | [UK] Chestnut-backed Chickadee | [FR] Mesange a dos marron | [DE] Rotrucken-Meise | [ES] Carbonero Dorsicastano | [NL] Kastanjerugmees


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Poecile rufescens NA w
Poecile rufescens barlowi
Poecile rufescens neglectus
Poecile rufescens rufescens

Physical charateristics

The cap, bib, and white cheeks indicate a chickadee; the chestnut back this species. Sides chestnut (or gray , in the race found along the coast of central

Listen to the sound of Chestnut-backed Chickadee

[audio: Chickadee.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 18 cm wingspan max.: 19 cm
size min.: 10 cm size max.: 12 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 18 days
fledging min.: 18 days fledging max.: 21 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 8  


North America : West


Moist conifer forests; adjacent oaks, shade trees.
In much of its range, a bird of dense, moist coniferous forest, with trees such as spruce, fir, tamarack, hemlock, and others. In southern part of range, lives in pine-oak woods and in redwood forest with understory of alders and willows, also in oak woo
ds and in groves of willows along streams.


Nesting behavior not well known. Members of pair may remain together all year.
Nest: Site is in hole in tree, usually low, 2-20′ above ground; can be much higher (reportedly up to 80′
). Will nest in the same site more than one year. Uses natural cavity in dead or rotten wood, the chickadees often excavating or enlarging it themselves; also will nest in old woodpecker holes or in birdho
uses. Nest has foundation of moss, lichens, feathers, bark fibers, plant down, lined with soft materials such as animal hair.
Eggs: 6-7, sometimes 5-9. White, with reddish brown dots concentrated at larger end; sometimes unmarked white. Incubation is probab
ly by female, but details not well known. If disturbed, adult on nest flutters wings and makes loud hissing noise.
Young: Probably fed by both parents. Development of young and age at first flight not well known.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects, seeds, berries. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including caterpillars, moths, beetles, leafhoppers, scale insects, small wasps, and others. Also eat
s spiders, seeds (especially of conifers), and berries.
Forages mostly by hopping among twigs and branches and gleaning food from surface, often hanging upside down to reach underside of branches. Often probes in crevices in bark, and sometimes takes food while hovering. Readily comes to bird feeders for seed
s or suet. May store food, recovering it later.


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Chestnut-backed Chickadee status Least Concern


Western North America. Migration:
Mostly permanent resident. Individuals may wander short distances in fall and winter.

Distribution map

Chestnut-backed Chickadee distribution range map

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