Saturday, November 19, 2011

Boreal Chickadees -- © Dave Spier

Boreal Chickadee in a White Pine by Dave Spier [scanned from a old slide]
see the links at the end of this blog post for great photos by other photographers

Judging by recent reports on Northern New York Birds, there's no shortage of Boreal Chickadees (Poecile hudsonica) in the Adirondacks.  If you're looking for a specific location, try the Roosevelt Truck Trail off Route 28N in Minerva.  The trail runs north from the old, narrow sideroad 1.6 miles north of the Boreas River bridge; details are in the ADK guidebook.  Birding guide, Joan Collins, said, "I had a beautiful walk on the Roosevelt Truck Trail [November 16]. I don't recall ever finding as many Boreal Chickadees on one walk. Views of the Boreal Chickadees were terrific throughout the hike.”

They're also likely to be encountered in northern New England, much of Alaska and certainly in their trans-Canada strongholds from coast to coast south of the tree line.  For an eBird range map, look under View and Explore Data, and then zoom in for finer detail.  At the highest resolutions you’ll find individual locations and checklists.  If you continue north on the map through Canada, you’ll find the data is incomplete, so if you’re ever up that way, please submit your complete checklists to eBird and help fill in the gaps.

Not surprisingly, almost all of the 2000-2005 Breeding Bird Atlas records for Boreal Chickadees are clustered in the Adirondacks.  The two exceptions are on the Tug Hill between Lake Ontario and the Adirondacks.

The Boreal's preferred habit is dense northern (boreal) coniferous forests, so whenever they move in search of winter food, they're usually found in a similar environment, often in association with their close relatives, the Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapilla).  At a distance the two species can be separated by song, with the Boreal's being a slower, raspier version of the familiar "chicka-dee-dee-dee," but more like "che-day-day" at a lower pitch.

All chickadees come to suet and sunflower seed feeders.  If you have conifers (spruce, pine, firs or hemlock) in your yard or nearby, pay some extra attention to any chickadees coming to your feeder.  Watch for any with a brown cap, gray sides of the neck behind the white face, and light-brown flanks.  (All chickadees have the black bib and underthroat.)  If you see one [or more], please report it [them] to eBird, or email me at

For great photos of Boreal Chickadees, please visit Jeff Nadler's website and Larry Master Conservation Photography

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