Boreal Chickadee

Parus hudsonicus

Jeremy Yancy
  • Passeriformes
  • Carbonero boreal
  • Mésange à tête brune, Mésange du Canada

The Boreal Chickadee is a small, active, grayish bird with a black chin, brown cap, and brownish sides found in spruce and fir forests in most of Alaska and Canada and the U.S. states adjacent to Canada.


Fun Fact

Because the Boreal Chickadee is docile and often chooses to live close to human habitations, it has fondly been given many local names, including Tom-Tit, Chick Chick, and Fillady.

Bird Sounds
© Lang Elliot, Nature Sound Studio

A hoarse, slow version of the “chick-a-dee-dee” call that other chickadee species make as well.

Appearance Description

A small, active, grayish bird with a black chin, brown cap, and brownish sides.

Range Map
Kenn Kaufman
Range Distribution

Permanent resident in most of Alaska and Canada and the U.S. states adjacent to Canada.


Mostly confined to spruce and fir forests, including young and old trees, preferring wetter sites.


Feeds on seeds, and arthropods. Stores food items such as spruce seeds, aphids, and insect larvae for survival during the harsh winter months. Secures seeds in a storage place using its own saliva, as well as spider webs, insect cocoons, and seed down.


Most nests are constructed in holes in dead trees or decaying tree stumps in coniferous forests. Unlike most passerines, the Boreal Chickadee may begin laying eggs before the nest is even completed. Raises only one brood per season, and clutch size ranges from 4 to 9 eggs. After the chicks hatch, the female often eats the eggshells.

  • 5.2 million
  • 5.2 million now
  • 20 million 40 years ago
  • 73 percent in 40 years
Population Status Trends
Conservation Issues
  • Threats: The Boreal Chickadee is endemic to the spruce-fir forests of the Boreal Zone, and is therefore tied to the fate of the Boreal. Major threats in the Boreal Forest are excessive logging, drilling, mining, and global warming. Boreal Chickadees respond favorably to spruce budworm outbreaks unless control activities against spruce budworm or other pests in spruce-fir forests overwhelm the food supply represented by those insects.

  • Outlook: A brighter future for the Boreal Chickadee will depend upon better industrial practices for logging, mining, and drilling, creating more protected areas within the boreal forest, and curbing the effects of global warming.
What You Can Do
  • Protect the Boreal Forest
    Promote conservation of the Canadian boreal forest by supporting the Boreal Songbird Initiative that works to save Canadian boreal habitat for all birds, specifically by fighting inappropriate logging, mining, and drilling, and by promoting the designation of protected areas.

  • Help Halt Global Warming
    Back strong federal, state, and local legislation to cap greenhouse emissions, and spur alternative energy sources. Conserve energy at home and at work (

  • Monitor Feeders
    If you see dead or diseased birds on or near your feeders, don’t put out food for two weeks to allow birds to disperse, and clean feeders before using them again.
More Information
Natural History References

Ficken, M.S., M.A. McLaren, and J.P. Hailman (1996). Boreal Chickadee (Parus hudsonicus). The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences and Washington, DC: The American Ornithologists’ Union. Retrieved from The Birds of North America Online database:

Kaufman, Kenn. Guía de campo a las aves de Norteamérica. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.

Conservation Status References