ARTISTS AND BIRDS
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"Surprise at Kolob"

Chestnut-backed Chickadee
      
        The Chestnut-backed Chickadee is a permanent resident from southern Alaska, the Pacific Northwest of the United States and western Canada, to southwestern California. Birds sometimes fly short distances in winter when their food supply gets low, but how did one find its way to Kolob? There I was by Blue Springs at Kolob, chickadeewhen I heard and then saw this little dark shape bounce from branch to branch, up, down, all over -- busy, busy, busy. Had to be a Chickadee -- but a Chestnut-backed? What a surprise!

        The Chestnut-backed Chickadee is active, sociable, and noisy as any chickadee. You will find them in the midst of foraging flocks of titmice, nuthatches, and sometimes other chickadee species. Chestnut-back chickadees get their food by foraging. They hop along tree branches picking the surfaces and probing the crevices to find food, and are often seen hanging upside down searching the underside of branches. One Chickadee was observed using a small stick as a tool to get food at a feeder. They eat conifer seeds, insects, spiders, and berries. They store food in the fall, which they retrieve and use during winter. Smart birds!

        Chestnut-backed chickadees build their nests by excavating cavities in soft rotten wood or by using woodpecker holes. Their nests are made of moss, lichen, fine grass, feathers, plant fiber, and lined with soft hair and fur. The nests are usually 50% hair and fur. The most common hair comes from deer, rabbits, and coyotes. They also make a layer of fur to cover the eggs on the nest.

        Brenda Rusnell is the artist of the Chestnut-backed Chickadee. If you would like to learn some of her drawing secrets, sign up for Brenda’s ICL Art Classes at Dixie State College. For more information about birds or the Red Cliffs Audubon call 435 673-0996.

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