Weather and Effort: November 26, 2008

When did you watch your feeders?
Day 1: morning afternoon
Day 2: morning afternoon

Estimated cumulative time: 1 to 4 hours

Daylight temperature: 1 to 10° C (33 to 50° F) low
11 to 20° C (51 to 68° F) high

Daylight precipitation: Rain 3 to 6 hours
Total depth of ice/snow cover: None

Checklist for FeederWatch California Region Birds
Mourning Dove 5
Anna’s Hummingbird 2
Western Scrub-Jay 1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 3
Oak Titmouse 1
California Towhee 2
White-crowned Sparrow 8
Golden-crowned Sparrow 5
Dark-eyed Junco 6
House Finch 4 (0 with eye disease)


Chestnut-backed Chickadee eating suet.

The Chestnut-backed Chickadee is a friendly bird that will fly up to grab a seed while I’m filling my feeders. This bird will even take seed from my hand.

The common chickadee of the Pacific Coast, the Chestnut-backed Chickadee is the smallest member of its family in America. It lacks a whistled song, but makes up for this deficiency by the complexity of its “chick-a-dee” calls.

  • small, short-billed bird.
  • Brownish black cap.
  • Black bib.
  • White cheeks.
  • Back deep rufous-chestnut. 
  • Size: 10-12 cm (4-5 in)
  • Wingspan: 19 cm (7 in)
  • Weight: 7-12 g (0.25-0.42 ounces)

Sexes look alike.

Cool Facts  

  • The Chestnut-backed Chickadee uses lots of fur in making its nest, with fur or hair accounting for up to half of all the material in the hole. The hair from rabbits, coyote, and deer is most common, but hair from skunks, cats, horses, or cows will be used as well. The adults make a layer of fur about 1 cm (0.4 in) thick that they use to cover the eggs when they leave the nest. 
  • Hole-nesting birds tend to have higher nest success rates than open-cup nesters, but that doesn’t mean that they are immune to predation. Chestnut-backed Chickadee nests get attacked by a number of predators, including mice, squirrels, weasels, snakes, and even black bears.  
  • The Chestnut-backed Chickadee is not truly migratory, but it does make some seasonal movements. In late summer some birds move to higher elevations up mountains. They move back to lower elevations when winter starts. In some winters, some chickadees will make local movements out of areas with deep snow.

Visit Project FeederWatch for more information and to find out how you can become a citizen scientist and count the birds you your own backyard!