These little birds BOREAL CHICKADEE have become somewhat of an obsession with me. I know they occur up here and even breed in the area according to the range maps in bird guides. It has been a number of years since I have seen one and that particular one was coming to my suet feeder during a stretch of unbearably cold temperatures during the winter of 1993.
I was out scouting out some new areas on Saturday over in the Elephant Lake area. There are beautiful cedar swamps in that area and some can be accessed by roads by Blackduck Lake. It was a beautiful fall day with the Maple leaves at their peak of color. The temperatures were in the 70’s; a perfect day for some birding. But alas, no Boreal Chickadees.
Sunday was another picture perfect day with temperatures rising into the low 80’s. A walk in the woods was definitely in order. One of my favorite trails is the Nelson’s Trail, it goes through some great habitat as it winds its way back to a lovely beaver pond. The Jack Pines held some Golden-crowned Kinglets … and then I heard some Chickadees that sounded slightly different than our familiar Black-capped Chickadee. Some folks liken the Boreal’s call to a Black-capped with a southern accent. Well, I don’t know about that, but the Boreal’s call is chick-a-day,day as opposed to chick-a-dee,dee.
And there they were! Boreal Chickadees! I was so thrilled, they were foraging in the Jack Pines.
You have to be careful when identifying Boreals – when looking up at the bird their black chin can make them look like your everyday Black-capped Chickadee. Make sure to look for the brown cap and the brown flanks that these birds sport.
I’ve heard reports from the North Shore and Duluth of Boreal Chickadees this year – maybe we will have an irruption and have numerous Boreals coming into the area from Canada. An interesting fact about these northern Chickadees is that they used to be called Hudsonian Chickadee. The old timers around here simply called them Hudsonians.