Mountain Chickadee
 Photo

General description.

The "Mountain Chickadee" is a small songbird, a passerine in the tit family. Both sexes have gray backs and flanks and paler gray underparts; they have a short black bill. The white eyebrow distinguishes it from other chickadees. It can be seen hanging upside down in search of pine twigs housing insects and larvae.

Calls or song.

The "Mountain Chickadee" has many "chick-a-dee" calls. It whistles a clear and cheerful "fee-bee", song commonly heard in the forests of the Sierra Nevada. Another is a frequent loud and aggressive garble during close encounters. The female utters a snake-like hissing, when nesting, to keep marauding squirrels at bay.

Population and distribution.

This small bird is found in the higher-elevation coniferous forests of western North America. It is the only songbird to remain in these seasonally cold and snowy regions year-round.

Nesting habits.

The "Mountain Chickadee" chips out a cavity in a dead tree for its furry nest or looks for an old woodpecker hole. There the female lays as many as 12 eggs, that lack the speckling of other chickadees, and this prolific bird produces sometimes two broods a year.

Similar birds:

Gray-headed Chickadee Photo Gray-headed Chickadee
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