Chestnut-backed Chickadee: Small, energetic chickadee with chestnut-brown back, rump and flanks, and white breast and belly. Barlowi subspecies has gray flanks. Cap and throat are black; cheek patch is white. Wings and tail are dark. Legs and feet are gray-black. Song not whistled like other chickadees, more like a sparrow chipping.
Range and Habitat
Chestnut-backed Chickadee: Resident along coastal regions from southern Alaska to central California; also in limited western ranges of the Rocky Mountains in southern British Columbia, southern Alberta, western Montana and Idaho. Preferred habitats are Pacific rain forest and moist areas containing conifers.
Titmice and Chickadees (Paridae)
The PASSERIFORMES (pronounced pas-ser-i-FOR-meez) is a large taxonomic order composed of one hundred eighteen families of birds and includes the predatory shrikes, curious nuthatches and the friendly titmice and chickadees.
There are fifty-five species in eight genera in the Paridae (pronounced PAR-uh-dee), a family mostly restricted to the northern hemisphere and the one in which the chickadees and titmice are found.
There are twelve species of Paridae in two genera that occur in North America with two distinct groups; the plump, confiding chickadees and the crested titmice.
The Paridae are mostly known for their friendly behavior. These small birds seem to have little fear of people in wild situations and Black-capped and Carolina Chickadees will readily become tame enough to take seed from an open hand.
Small birds with short wings and medium-sized tails, the chickadees have short, stubby bills that give them a large-headed look. The titmice are similar in shape but have slightly larger bills and crests. Both groups have strong feet adapted to an arboreal lifestyle that includes hanging upside down on small branches.
A family with primarily dull-colored plumages, chickadees have pale underparts with gray or brown upperparts and a distinctive dark "bib" on the throat and "cap" on the head. Except for one titmouse species (the Bridled Titmouse), that has a face pattern somewhat like a chickadee, titmice are mostly gray with dark inquisitive eyes that stand out on their plain faces.
The Paridae in North America are woodland birds, the chickadees occurring in both deciduous and coniferous forests throughout much of the continent and the titmice residing in forest and scrub habitats. Most species of titmice reside in the west and a few are associated with Oak dominated woodlands.
Although some Black-capped Chickadees that breed in Canada are short distance migrants to milder climes, these are the exception as most members of the Paridae brave the winter even in the boreal zones.
Members of the Paridae are social, vocal birds that frequently forage in mixed feeding flocks and are quick to give the alarm when a predator is sighted. Both chickadees and titmice forage in trees and bushes with chickadees often hanging upside down when inspecting twigs for hidden arthropods. Both groups of Paridae also readily feed on seeds and nuts.
Titmice and chickadee species are doing well throughout North America and no members of this family are threatened with extinction.
The Gray-headed Chickadee is one of the hardiest of bird species in North America. This non-migratory bird spends lives year round in central Alaska; a range that also makes it one of the least seen birds by North American birders.