Mountain Chickadees (Poecile gambeli) are a conspicuous cavity nester and one of the 96 species of birds that nest in Lassen Volcanic National Park. They are mainly year-round residents of montane coniferous forests of western North America, primarily in areas dominated by pine, spruce-fir, and piñon-juniper.
When visiting the park in the summer months they can usually be found nesting in a natural cavity in a tree stump or in a woodpecker hole. One year I found this nest in the ground, in a cut off tree stump within thirty feet of the parking lot at Summit Lake. Click on photos for full sized images.
More commonly old woodpecker holes are utilized and are found throughout the park. Hat Lake (see map) is located right on highway 89 which traverses the park and is home to several cavity rich snags within eye sight of the highway.
That’s where I found, within a forty foot radius, nesting Tree Swallows, a nesting Red-breasted Nuthatch (in a cavity formerly occupied by Black-backed Woodpeckers), and this Mountain Chickadee.
The pair was actively feeding their young on a frequent basis.
Constantly bringing insects and insect larvae to the nest.
Mountain Chickadees may not be the most colorful birds but what they lack in their gray scale plumage they make up in their energetic and acrobatic behaviors.
The nestlings certainly are cute, with those yellow bill flanges still showing, waiting for the next meal.
I found a nice HD YouTube video showing the Mountain Chickadee behavior. It was obviously taken at someone’s feeding station but you get to see the bird close up and it shows their seed eating and seed stashing behavior. Enjoy!