Mountain chickadee a local year-round resident

Published Jan 16, 2013 at 04:00AM

Scientific name: Poecile gambeli

Characteristics: Mostly plain gray above with a grayish-white belly and pale flanks. Head has a black cap and eye stripe separated by a distinct white eyebrow, along with a white cheek patch and black bib. About five to six inches long.

Breeding: Builds a nest of fur, plant fibers, hair or moss in natural cavities, abandoned woodpecker holes or nest boxes. May nest low under exposed tree roots or in the rotting bases of stumps.

Habitat: A Western species that is a common year-round resident in Central Oregon, its habitat ranges from juniper woodlands and residential areas to mountain forests. Common visitor to backyard bird feeders.

Food: Seeds and insects; gleans insects from foliage or catches them in midair, caches seeds for winter use.

Bird facts: Song is a hoarse drawn out “chick-adee-adee-adee” or three to six whistled notes that sound like “CHEESEburger.” In winter, often found in mixed flocks with other species such as juncos, nuthatches, siskins, finches and kinglets. Scientific name honors William Gambel, a 19th century naturalist who collected birds and plants in the West.

Sources: Oregon Department of Wildlife Resources and David Sibley’s “The Sibley Guide to Birds.”

Damian Fagan is a birder, writer and past president of the East Cascades Audubon Society. He can be reached at damian.fagan@hotmail.com.

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