Boreal Birding

Boreal chickadee (photo by Jessica Botzan)

After two days of birding in northern Minnesota I’ve seen seven Life Birds.  This species is one of them.

I’ve tried to find boreal chickadees in Maine in September and come up empty, perhaps because the weather was too pleasant.  In Minnesota in the depths of winter they come to the peanut butter feeders at Sax Zim Bog.  Life bird at last!

This is one bird you must visit at his home if you want to see him.  Boreal chickadees (Poecile hudsonicus) never migrate so you won’t see one passing through in spring or fall.  They live exclusively in the “spruce moose” forest where they survive the winter by stashing food at every opportunity.

It’s a harsh landscape in winter.  As I have learned from personal experience, a typical birding day may yield only 10 species.  The only boreal species I’m missing, and probably won’t see on this trip, is the great gray owl.

Sandy Komito, record holder of the North American Big Year since 1998(*), spoke at the Sax Zim Bog Festival on Friday night.  What bird did he miss in northern Minnesota during his Big Year?  Great gray owl.   So I don’t feel so bad.

To make up for it, I saw a moose.


(photo by Jessica Botzan)

(*) Last December (2013) Neil Hayward beat Sandy Komito’s record by one bird.  His record is not official until the local states’ records committees pass judgment on three first ABA records.  Click here for a photo of them together.

7 thoughts on “Boreal Birding

    1. I can’t take credit for the photo. It comes to me thanks to Pittsburgh area photographer Jess Botzan who visited Minnesota last month. .. Looking forward to seeing you in Pittsburgh.

  1. The Spruce Bog parking lot in Algonquin Provincial Park (Canada) is a fairly reliable spot for Boreal chickadee. That’s where I got mine! 🙂

  2. Nice to get some lifers and good ones at that…How close were you to the Moose?

    It’s snowing AGAIN…took a walk and it’s at least 18 inches deep and I don’t think I hit the ground but icy snow…

    1. Marcy, the moose was alongside the road, near the field trip bus. We were en route to Ely, MN to see Bohemian waxwings. LOTS of snow here & 6″ coming tomorrow.

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