Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli)

Mountain Chickadee

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Paridae | [latin] Poecile gambeli | [UK] Mountain Chickadee | [FR] Mesange de l’Ouest | [DE] Gambelmeise | [ES] Carbonero ceja blanca | [NL] Gambels Mees


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Poecile gambeli NA w, also nw Mexico
Poecile gambeli atratus
Poecile gambeli baileyae
Poecile gambeli gambeli
Poecile gambeli inyoensis

Physical charateristics

Similar to the Black-capped Chickadee, but black of cap interrupted by a white line over the eye.

Listen to the sound of Mountain Chickadee

[audio: Chickadee.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 18 cm wingspan max.: 30 cm
size min.: 11 cm size max.: 14 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 17 days fledging max.: 23 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 5  
      eggs max.: 9  


North America : West, also Northwest Mexico


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 zone
s. 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.


In some areas, numbers may be limited by a scarcity of good nesting sites.
Nest: Site is usually natural cavity or old woodpecker hole in tree, or a cavity enlarged or excavated by the chickadees. Usually 5-25′ above ground, sometimes in stumps only a few inches up.
Same site may be used more than one year. Sometimes uses birdhouse, occasionally even nests in holes in ground. Nest (built mostly by female) has soft foundation of bark fibers, moss, hair, feathers.
Eggs: 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.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects, seeds, and berries.
Feeds on 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.
Behavior: Forages actively in trees, often feeding very
high in conifers. Gleans 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. Comes to bird feeders for seeds or suet.


This species has an extremely 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 stable, 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.
Mountain Chickadee status Least Concern


Resident, southwestern Canada, western United States, northern Baja California. Migration:
Mostly a permanent resident. Some (mainly young birds) move to lower elevations in winter, sometimes out into lowland valleys and plains.

Distribution map

Mountain Chickadee distribution range map

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