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Boreal Chickadee

Poecile hudsonicus

Length: 5.5 inches Wingspan: 8.25 inches Seasonality: Rare Visitor
ID Keys: Grayish-brown cap, gray nape, brownish flanks, gray wings and tail

Boreal Chickadee - Poecile hudsonicusBoreal Chickadees are mostly birds of Canadian conifer forests, and for the most part are only rarely found south into the United States.  They are only extremely rare visitors to South Dakota.  They are generally quite tame and sociable birds.  They can be identified from other chickadee species by their unique plumage characteristics, typical range, and by their song.


Primarily found in conifer forests.  They are found as far north as the stunted spruces at the treeline in far northern Canada.


Insects, spiders, and seeds.  Feeds heavily on insect eggs and larvae, especially in the winter.


Primarily forages by clambering through dense conifer vegetation, gleaning insects from the foliage and branches.  Will occasionally hover and glean insects, or feed on the ground as well.


Non-breeder in South Dakota.  In their breeding range, the nest is a cavity in a tree, either a natural cavity or an old woodpecker hole.  The nesting cavity is lined with strips of bark, moss, lichens, feathers, and plant down.  The female lays between 5 and 8 eggs, and she alone incubates them. When the eggs hatch, both parents help to feed the young.  The young leave the nest after 16-20 days.


A short clear note followed by a simple trill. 


Generally a permanent resident throughout their range. 

Interactive eBird Map:

Click to access an interactive eBird map of Boreal Chickadee sightings


Will attend feeders for sunflower seeds, suet, and peanut butter.

Similar Species:

Black-capped Chickadee, Mountain Chickadee, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Gray-headed Chickadee


The normal range of the Boreal Chickadee is outside most direct human influence, although it could be vulnerable to future human-induced climate change.  The IUCN lists the Boreal Chickadee as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information:

1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Boreal Chickadee

2) BirdWeb - Boreal Chickadee

3) Audubon Guide -Boreal Chickadee

Photo Information:

Photo taken at Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska - August 2010 - Terry Sohl


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Boreal Chickadee - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Extremely rare visitor, with only a handful of records in the state.

Additional Boreal Chickadee Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
Boreal Chickadee -   Poecile hudsonicusBoreal Chickadee -   Poecile hudsonicusBoreal Chickadee - Poecile hudsonicusBoreal Chickadee -   Poecile hudsonicusBoreal Chickadee -   Poecile hudsonicus