Common Name

Scientific Name

Photo by Judd Patterson
Photo Copyright Judd Patterson

The mountain chickadee, Poecile gambeli, is a common resident of coniferous and mixed montane woodlands in states west of the Rocky Mountains. The species is a common permanent resident in Utah; during the summer breeding season, it is found in montane coniferous forests, but during the winter, individuals migrate to lower elevation forests. Mountain chickadees eat insects, spiders, and the seeds of conifer trees.

Pairs are monogamous, and they usually nest in natural or previously-excavated cavities in trees. The nest is lined with a soft material, such as moss, fur, feathers, or shredded bark. Generally five to twelve eggs are incubated, and it is believed that the female performs most of the nest roosting. After an incubation period of two weeks, the young hatch and remain in the nest for approximately three weeks. The young are fed regurgitated food for about four days, after which time they are fed solid food. The female is largely responsible for tending the hatchlings, whereas the male provides the majority of their food. The adult pair may have two broods each year.


  • Biological and Conservation Database. 2000. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, The Nature Conservancy, and the Association for Biodiversity Information.

  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birderís handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.