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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Boreal Chickadee -- Parus hudsonicus

RANGE: Resident from western and central Alaska and central Yukon to northern Ontario and Labrador, south to extreme north-central Washington, northwestern Montana, northern Minnesota, northern Michigan, northern New York, Maine, and Nova Scotia. After the breeding season, wanders irregularly to the south.

STATUS: Fairly common.

HABITAT: Associated with northern coniferous forests, where it inhabits spruce, balsam, and dense pine woodlands, white cedar and hemlock swamps, bogs, and occasionally birch and streamside willows.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Available cavities, or decaying trees with soft heartwood and hard exterior layers and bark for excavating nest cavities.

NEST: Excavates nest cavity in trees or stubs, preferably with soft and decayed heartwood but hard outer layers; it may use natural cavities or old woodpecker holes. Uses cavity opening from 1 to 10 feet above the ground, facing upward rather than laterally like the nests of other chickadees. Selects nest sites more for the softness of the heartwood than for the species of tree.

FOOD: Consumes adults, larvae, pupae, and eggs of insects found by gleaning and probing tree trunks, bark crevices, and foliage. Also extracts seeds from cones, and eats fruits.

REFERENCES: Bent 1946, DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Johnsgard 1979, McLaren 1975, Terres 1980.

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