Living Bird Magazine
Boreal ChickadeePoecile hudsonicus
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Paridae
A chickadee with a brown instead of a black cap, the Boreal Chickadee lives in coniferous forests of the far north year-round. Its boreal habits and sedentary lifestyle mean it’s a hard species for most bird watchers to see without taking a trip to Canada or Alaska. When it’s not nesting season, these little birds travel and forage in small groups, sometimes with other songbirds such as kinglets. In summer and fall, they cache seeds and insects to help them get through the long, brutal winter.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Finding Boreal Chickadees can take time and patience: they are not as numerous or conspicuous as many chickadee species and they lack a sweet, whistled song. Instead, listen for a harsh tschick-a-dee-dee call and look for them foraging quietly near the trunks of spruce or balsam fir.
- Carbonero Boreal (Spanish)
- Mésange à tête brune (French)
Within its range, this species often comes to bird feeders. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.
Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.
- Cool Facts
- Boreal Chickadees often visit backyards when foraging, and their tolerance of people has resulted in multiple folk names, especially in Canada, where it is known as tom-tit, chick chick, and fillady.
- Chickadees, and their Old World relatives the tits, evolved in Eurasia. During glacial periods of the Pleistocene Era, ancestors of modern-day chickadees are thought to have crossed the Bering land bridge from present-day Russia into North America, very much like the first humans to arrive in the Americas.
- Like most chickadees, the Boreal Chickadee hides food regularly. Known as caching, this habit is probably vital for winter survival in the harsh boreal environment. In one study, a Boreal Chickadee cached mostly insect larvae as well as some spruce seeds.
- The oldest recorded Boreal Chickadee was at least 5 years, 4 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Nova Scotia.