Mountain Chickadee

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.

Mountain Chickadee Range Map

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.

Mountain Chickadee Nestlings

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.

Mountain Chickadee

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.

Mountain Chickadee

The pair was actively feeding their young on a frequent basis.

Mountain Chickadee

Constantly bringing insects and insect larvae to the nest.

Mountain Chickadee

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.

Mountain Chickadee Nestling

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!

Written by Larry
Larry Jordan was introduced to birding after moving to northern California where he was overwhelmed by the local wildlife, forcing him to buy his first field guide just to be able to identify all the species visiting his yard. Building birdhouses and putting up feeders brought the avian fauna even closer and he was hooked. Larry wanted to share his passion for birds and conservation and hatched The Birder's Report in September of 2007. His recent focus is on bringing the Western Burrowing Owl back to life in California where he also monitors several bluebird trails. He is a BirdLife Species Champion and contributes to several other conservation efforts, being the webmaster for Wintu Audubon Society and the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Urban Bird Foundation. He is now co-founder of a movement to create a new revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges with a Wildlife Conservation Pass.