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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Mountain Chickadee -- Parus gambeli

RANGE: Resident from northwestern and central British Columbia, southwestern Alberta, western and south-central Montana, and Colorado south to Baja California, southern Nevada, central and southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, and extreme western Texas.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits open coniferous forests from 6,000 to 11,000 feet in elevation. In winter, often ranges downslope to the foothills, frequenting oaks, and cottonwoods and willows along streams.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Decayed trees or stubs for excavating nests, or old cavity nests.

NEST: Usually nests in natural cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes, but will excavate its own holes in rotted wood. Many nest in aspen trees associated with a conifer forest.

FOOD: Gleans much of its food from foliage, especially large volumes of adult and larval insects. When densities of lodgepole needle miners are high, consumes these insects for much of its diet. Also eats seeds, spruce buds, and fruits.

REFERENCES: Bent 1946, DeWeese et al. 1979, Phillips et al. 1964, Scott et al. 1977, Telford and Herman 1963, Winternitz 1973.

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