It is a small chickadee, 11.5 to 12.5 cm (4.5 to 4.9 in) long with a weight of 8.5 to 12.6 g. The head is dark blackish-brown with white cheeks, the mantle is bright rufous-brown, the wing feathers are dark gray with paler fringes. The underparts are white to pale grayish-white, with rufous or pale gray flanks. It is often considered the most handsome of all chickadees.They are tiny , large headed but small billed, with a rather long , narrow tail and short, rounded wings.

Habitat and Distribution

It is found in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and western Canada, from southern Alaska to southwestern California. It is a permanent resident within its range, but they usually move to lower elevations in the same area upon onset of winter.Its habitat is low elevation coniferous and mixed coniferous/deciduous forests. In the San Francisco Bay Area this bird has readily adapted to suburban settings.


Its food is largely insects and other invertebrates gleaned from foliage, also conifer seeds and fruit. They visit bird feeders and love especially suet.


Chestnut-backed chickadees use lots of fur and hair to make their nests. It lays 5-8 eggs per clutch.

Calls and Songs

They have hight pitched calls described as `zee zee zee`.