These small birds burn so much energy that they must replenish their stores almost daily to survive winter. Chickadees do not have sufficient fat reserves to survive prolonged stretches of cold weather, which inhibits their foraging, but Boreal Chickadees are likely more cold hardy than their Black-capped cousins. Like jays, many chickadees store food for winter-they often hide seeds or dead insects in holes and bark crevices-and they have a remarkable ability to remember and find their stores. All chickadees enter into a state known as torpor during cold winter nights. While in torpor, the bird's metabolism slows slightly, so that the bird uses less energy during the night. The scientific name hudsonicus refers to the northern, Hudsonian region of Canada.
I.D.: Sexes similar: gray-brown cap; black bib; gray-brown flanks; light gray underparts; light brownish back; white cheek patch.
Size: L 5-51/2 in. (13-14 cm).
Range: common year-round in the Canadian and northern U.S. Rockies.
Habitat: mature and young coniferous forests, especially spruce and fir, and occasionally pine forests up to the subalpine.
Nesting: excavates a cavity in soft, rotting wood or uses a natural cavity or abandoned woodpecker nest in a conifer tree; female lines the nest with fur, feathers, moss and grass; female incubates 5-8 eggs for around 15 days.
Feeding: gleans vegetation, branches and infrequently the ground for small tree-infesting insects, including their pupae and eggs, and spiders; also eats conifer seeds.
Voice: soft, nasal, whistled scick-a day day day.
Similar Species: Mountain Chickadee: white eyebrow; black eye line. Black-capped Chickadee: black cap; buffy flanks. Chestnut-backed Chickadee: rusty back and flanks; dark brown cap.