A Mountain Chickadee at Grand Canyon National Park

A Mountain Chickadee at Grand Canyon National Park

Mountain chickadee sitting on a Pinyon Pine at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, U.S.A.

During our stay at Grand Canyon National Park, Bob and I explored many sections of the South Rim Trail since we were supremely situated with our room at Maswik Lodge.  After completing a guided Fossil Walk one morning, we continued along the Rim Trail towards Maricopa Point.  In addition to providing excellent views of Bright Angel Trail from Lookout Point, the trail also affords suitable habitat for numerous birds in the Pinyon Pines and other shrubbery that grow tenuously at the edge of the Canyon.  That is where we found this Mountain Chickadee.

Mountain chickadee on a Pinyon Pine tree limb at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, U.S.A.

When we first spotted the Mountain Chickadee, recognition of the species was immediate because it so resembles our Black-capped Chickadees in Ontario, Canada.  The main difference is that Mountain Chickadees have a white eyebrow that is diagnostic.

Mountain chickadee on a limb of a Pinyon Pine tree at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, U.S.A.

In the dry mountainous regions of the western States, Mountain Chickadees are found in mixed conifer forests, pinyon-juniper or pine forests even at elevations above 12,000 feet.

Ponderosa pine tree growing on the South Rim at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, U.S.A.

This is an example of one of the Ponderosa Pines that grow along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Tree trunk of a Ponderosa pine tree at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, U.S.A.

These soaring coniferous trees can reach heights beyond 250 feet (76 m), and together with the Pinyon Pines that grow in the region, they make up some of the habitat favored by Mountain Chickadees.

Mountain chickadee among tree limbs at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, U.S.A.

Mountain Chickadees usually forage very high up in the trees, so it is no wonder that they are seldom seen.

Mountain chickadee eating insects among tree limbs at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, U.S.A.

As Bob and I observed this specimen, it seemed undeterred and continued without interruption to glean insects and spiders from the twigs and crevices in the tree’s bark.

Mountain chickadee on tree branch at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, U.S.A.

These acrobatic and highly agile birds dart quickly from branch to branch around the outside of a tree, and this Mountain Chickadee was no different.  There, with the tree clinging to the edge of the Canyon, we only had views of the Chickadee where the Pine hung over the walking trail.

Mountain chickadee on a tree branch at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, U.S.A.

Mountain Chickadees supplement their diet with seeds and nuts with one of their favorites being Pine Nuts the same as those I purchase for use in salads.

Jean holding a pinyon pine tree nut on the South Rim in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, U.S.A.

Bob and I discovered for ourselves just how plentiful Pine Nuts are in the Park when we were out cycling on another day.  Having pulled up for a rest beneath a Pinyon Pine tree, I picked up some cones and other red nuts in order to study them.

Cracked pinyon pine tree nut at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, U.S.A.

The cones were full of plump, rich nuts that were nestled in between each scale.  Pine Nuts are pale and shaped somewhat like peanuts.

Mountain chickadee sitting in a tree at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, U.S.A.

Given the abundance of Pinyon Pines at Grand Canyon National Park, it is no wonder that the Mountain Chickadees have plenty of food to stash away for the winter.  It was a pleasure observing this cheerful little bird before we turned and walked back towards Bright Angel Lodge.

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Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean

2 comments

  • Wow, it must be so hard to find this tiny bird in this big tall tree! Great find!
    We would love to hike at Grand Canyon too, The trail there looks amazing and so different from what Ontario trails offer.
    It is always interesting to travel and explore different birds habitat.
    Happy Birthing 🙂

    • Thank you for your comments. The Mountain Chickadee was actually in a shorter tree than a Ponderosa Pine. I think it was a Pinyon Pine Tree. It is so much fun to explore the landscape in an area different from where we live. One never knows what will turn up, which is half the intrigue of being in a new place.