How Do Boreal Chickadees Survive the Winter?

Photograph by Dan Ardnt/Flickr Creative Commons

How Do Boreal Chickadees Survive the Winter?

These birds have ways of staying warm during the North's frigid weather.

Brought to you by BirdNote®
Published: 11/26/2013

This story comes to you through a partnership between Audubon and BirdNote, a show that airs daily on public radio stations nationwide.


At the edge of the Arctic lies the vast boreal forest. In summer, it’s home to legions of nesting birds, from warblers to loons.


In early autumn, nearly all these birds depart for warmer points south. By November, this dark land of spruce and firs is a cold, forbidding place.


Yet one remarkable songbird stays behind: the boreal chickadee. This tiny, dark-capped fluff-ball lives here year-round. 
How do Boreal Chickadees survive the harsh winter?


First, during summer, they cache a great deal of food, both insects and seeds. Moths and beetles and even aphids are stashed away in bark crevices, and under the rough edges of lichens.

The chickadees also store a lot of spruce seeds.
 
Then in fall, the birds put on fresh, heavier plumage. And their feathers are more dense than most birds’, creating a comfy down parka for the chickadee.
 And most impressive, the chickadees adapt to deep cold by lowering their body temperature at night from 108 degrees to just 85 degrees.In this way, the birds conserve their stores of insulating fat.


So hats off to the Boreal Chickadee, a truly rugged bird – even if it weighs only 1/3 of an ounce.


For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.


Sounds of the birds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Boreal Chickadee (unedited) recorded by Gerrit Vyn; Boreal Chickadee 77205 by C.A.Marantz; wail of the Common Loon 107963 by S.R. Pantle.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2013 Tune In to Nature.org     November 2013   Narrator: Mary McCann

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Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine

Comments

I enjoy feeding these birds

I enjoy feeding these birds and bluejays and many others in Pellston, year round. It gets to be very expensive but I really enjoy the birds. I can watch them through the slider while sitting at the diningroom table. Praise the Lord for GODs Creatures and his beauty.

I enjoy feeding these birds

I enjoy feeding these birds and bluejays and many others in Pellston, year round. It gets to be very expensive but I really enjoy the birds. I can watch them through the slider while sitting at the diningroom table. Praise the Lord for GODs Creatures and his beauty.

I enjoy feeding these birds

I enjoy feeding these birds and bluejays and many others in Pellston, year round. It gets to be very expensive but I really enjoy the birds. I can watch them through the slider while sitting at the diningroom table. Praise the Lord for GODs Creatures and his beauty.

These sweet little puff balls

These sweet little puff balls are my favourite birds and I make sure there is suet and seed for them at all times. They always cheer me up with their songs and their antics...little clowns, they are.

These sweet little puff balls

These sweet little puff balls are my favourite birds and I make sure there is suet and seed for them at all times. They always cheer me up with their songs and their antics...little clowns, they are.

These sweet little puff balls

These sweet little puff balls are my favourite birds and I make sure there is suet and seed for them at all times. They always cheer me up with their songs and their antics...little clowns, they are.

These sweet little puff balls

These sweet little puff balls are my favourite birds and I make sure there is suet and seed for them at all times. They always cheer me up with their songs and their antics...little clowns, they are.

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