Mexican ChickadeePoecile sclateri

adult
Bob Steele/VIREO
adult
Martin Meyers/VIREO

Description

The southernmost of the chickadees, this bird is common in mountain forests over much of Mexico. It barely enters our area, crossing the border only to the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona and the Animas Mountains of New Mexico. Most birders encounter it in the Chiricahuas, where it ranges through the Douglas-firs at high elevations. In late summer, after nesting, Mexican Chickadees join mixed flocks with various warblers and other birds.

Habitat

Conifers in mountains. In limited range in United States, breeds in mountains in open ponderosa pine forest and in higher, denser forests of spruce and Douglas-fir. May range down into pine-oak forest and sycamore groves in winter. Farther south, in Mexico, lives in various habitats from high mountain fir forest down into oak woodlands.

Feeding Diet

Mostly insects, probably some seeds. Diet is not well known, but probably consists mostly of insects, including caterpillars, beetles, and others. Probably also eats seeds.

Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly by hopping among twigs and branches and gleaning food from surface, often hanging upside down to reach underside of branches. Sometimes takes food while hovering, and occasionally catches flying insects in mid-air. May hammer on galls with bill to break them open and pull out insect larvae. Unlike many chickadees, not known to store food.

Nesting

Breeding behavior is not well known. Nest site is in hole in tree, usually 10-40' above ground, sometimes higher; can be just a few inches up in stumps. Adults may enlarge natural cavity, but details poorly known. Also will use nest boxes. Nest (apparently built by female) has foundation of bark fibers and moss, lining of soft moss, animal hair. Eggs: 5-9. White, with reddish brown dots concentrated at larger end. Incubation is by female only, incubation period not well known. Female may cover eggs with nest material when leaving nest. Male feeds female during incubation period. Young: Female broods young at first, while male brings most food; later, both parents feed young. Adult may sweep outside of nest entrance with crushed beetles; chemicals from these insects may help repel predators. Age of young when leaving nest not well known.

Eggs

5-9. White, with reddish brown dots concentrated at larger end. Incubation is by female only, incubation period not well known. Female may cover eggs with nest material when leaving nest. Male feeds female during incubation period. Young: Female broods young at first, while male brings most food; later, both parents feed young. Adult may sweep outside of nest entrance with crushed beetles; chemicals from these insects may help repel predators. Age of young when leaving nest not well known.

Young

Female broods young at first, while male brings most food; later, both parents feed young. Adult may sweep outside of nest entrance with crushed beetles; chemicals from these insects may help repel predators. Age of young when leaving nest not well known.

Conservation

Numbers probably stable in limited range in United States. May be vulnerable to loss of habitat in Mexico.

Range

Mostly a permanent resident. In Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona, some birds move down into lower canyons in winter.

Listen

calls #2
calls #3
calls #4
calls #1

Similar Species

adult

Bridled Titmouse

An active little crested bird of southwestern woodlands. In lower canyons of the Arizona mountains, the Bridled Titmouse is often one of the most common birds at all seasons, with small flocks moving about and chattering in the oaks as they search the branches for insects. The callnotes and behavior of this species (and even its head markings) may suggest a chickadee more than the other titmice.

adult, Eastern

Black-capped Chickadee

Little flocks of Black-capped Chickadees enliven the winter woods with their active behavior and their cheery-sounding chick-a-dee callnotes as they fly from tree to tree, often accompanied by an assortment of nuthatches, creepers, kinglets, and other birds. This is a very popular bird across the northern United States and southern Canada, always welcomed at bird feeders, where it may take sunflower seeds one at time and fly away to stuff them into bark crevices.

adult, fresh plumage

Mountain Chickadee

Almost throughout the higher mountains of the West, this chickadee is common in the conifer forests. It is not always easy to see, because it often feeds very high in the trees. However, except during the nesting season, any mixed flock of small birds moving through the highland pines is likely to include a nucleus of Mountain Chickadees.

adult

Boreal Chickadee

This dusty-looking chickadee lives in spruce forest of the North, mostly north of the Canadian border. A hardy permanent resident, it survives the winter even as far north as the Arctic Circle. Like other chickadees, this species becomes much more quiet and inconspicuous during the nesting season. Because that is the time of year when birders most often search for it, the Boreal Chickadee has gained a reputation as an excessively elusive bird.

adult

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

The most colorful of the chickadees, the Chestnut-backed is common in the Northwest. Inland, it may overlap in range with up to three other close relatives; but in the very humid coastal belt, in wet forests of hemlock and tamarack, this is the only chickadee present. In those surroundings its rich chestnut colors may be hard to see, but it can still be recognized by its husky, fast chick-a-dee calls.

Vireo

iPad Promo