The birds of the Boreal

It seems that I have been chasing a Boreal Chickadee in Southern BC for a few years now. They are no longer easy to see at Manning Park and few have been photographed and reported there in several years. They used to be seen on the Heather Trail and at Strawberry Flats. Traditional sites to see them in the Okanagan have been Silver Star in Vernon, Big White in Kelowna, Shuttleworth Creek Rd in Okanagan Falls and Apex Mountain in Hedley.  They are normally easier to see in winter (when they come down to lower elevations) than in the summer. They prefer to spend most of their time in the interior of dense spruces making them harder to see. Because they like spruce and balsam fir forests it is harder to  find Boreal Chickadees in the southern BC near the southern limits of their range where the forests are mostly deciduous. They are mostly insectivores but also eat conifer seeds and fruit. In the fall they store their food on the underside of branches in caches that are held in place with their saliva. They do this so that they can easily retrieve them in the winter, when the snow covers the top of the branches.

Boreal Chickadees have several different common names: "Tom-tit", "Chick Chick", "Fillady", "Hudsonian Chickadee", "Acadian Chickadee" and "Brown-capped Chickadee".

Well, after several attempts at all these locations this year and the last, I finally got a Boreal Chickadee at Apex Mountain (actually Beaconsfield Mountain). As I drove along the road to the cross country ski hills, the mountain was alive with Hermit Thrushes (finally got a decent shot of one here), Chipping Sparrows, Short-tailed Weasels, Snowshoe Hare, Deer, Bears, Marmots and the like but not a Chickadee in sight!. Usually, I get tons of Mountain Chickadees up there. I was getting worried and was actually on my way out, when this glorious raspy voice (that sounded different from a Mountain) started calling at Km 17 at an elevation of 2187 m. The Boreal Chickadee was calling all by his lonesome! It was as if he was meant just for me. I celebrated with Common Poorwills and a Flammulated Owl that night.

This has been a good couple of months for me for Boreal birds, as I've also had Boreal, Great Gray and Northern Hawk-Owls.

Out of all of them though, believe it or not, even if I got a poor records shot,  I enjoyed the Chickadee most of all.

There is truly something special about Boreal Birds, it's nice to breathe the same mountain air with them.

*The locations of owls, will not be shared for their protection.

Boreal Chickadee on Apex Mountain - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Hermit Thrush on Apex Mountain - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Northern Hawk-Owl - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Immature Great Gray Owl - Photo: Melissa Hafting


  1. great post mel congrats on getting your boreal chickadee. you sure do well with those boreal birds and owls. great photos of the hawk-owl and Hermit thrush too!!

    1. thanks john was a cool summer with these birds for sure.

  2. love the hermit thrush shot and hawk-owl mel congrats on the boreal chickadee


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