Bird Lore: Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Photo by LeRoy VanHee

The Chestnut-backed Chickadee is the smallest of the North American chickadee species and is a year-round resident of Edmonds. Its range includes most of the West Coast, as far north as Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula and as far south as Santa Barbara, Calif. Within its range, the Chestnut-backed Chickadee is common.

Look for this bird high in conifer trees where it forages on twigs and needles. Its diet is about 65 percent insects and the rest is a mix of seeds, berries, and fruit pulp. While It is particularly fond of mature Douglas firs, it is also found in riparian habitats such as in areas surrounding the Edmonds marsh.

You can find this bird in Yost, Pine Ridge, City, and Maplewood Parks, for example. It is well-adapted to bird-feeding stations so you might also see it in suburban gardens. It will feed on chunky peanut butter and suet. In winter this chickadee can be seen in mixed feeding flocks with Bushtits, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, as well as occasionally with Black-capped Chickadees.

Carol Riddell, author of our new “Bird Lore” feature, manages the bird education displays, on behalf of Pilchuck Audubon Society and Edmonds Parks & Recreation, at the Olympic Beach ranger station.


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