Chestnut-backed chickadees (Peocile rufescens) live in the wet, dense conifer and mixed forests of the West Coast, Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. The smallest of the North American chickadees, chestnut-backed chickadees also will adapt to suburban and urban shrubs and ornamental plantings. Although they are not migratory, chestnut-backed chickadees will move higher into the mountains in the summer and return to lower elevations in the winter.
A handsome bird, the chestnut-backed chickadee has a black cap that extends just below the eyes, a white cheek patch, a black chin, throat and upper breast and grey wings with white edging. Their underparts are white to pale grey while the back is a rich chestnut brown. In the northern part of their range the flanks of chestnut-backed chickadees are rufous brown becoming a dull grey in the southern portion of their range. At least three subspecies, distinguished by flank color and range, are named.
Chestnut-backed chickadees are acrobatic and in constant motion as they forage through the forest for the insects and arthropods that comprise the majority of their diet. Seeds, berries and fruit pulps are also eaten.
These chestnut-backed chickadees were photographed amid the Monterey pines on Jacks Peak to the west of Monterey CA.