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Boreal Chickadees Stay Home for the Winter

How do they survive the cold?

Boreal Chickadees live in the boreal forest year-round. How do they survive the harsh winter? First, during summer, they cache a great deal of food, both insects and seeds. Then in fall, they put on fresh, heavier plumage. And their feathers are denser than most birds', creating a comfy down parka. Most impressive? The chickadees lower their body temperature at night from 108 degrees to just 85 degrees, conserving their stores of insulating fat. Hats off to the Boreal Chickadee, a truly rugged bird! Learn more at the links below.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 
BirdNote® 
Boreal Chickadees Stay Home for the Winter
Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[Boreal Chickadee calls in summer]

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. [Sound of Common Loon]

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. [Sound of whistling wind]

Yet one remarkable songbird stays behind: the Boreal Chickadee. [Boreal Chickadee calls backed by wind]

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. [Boreal Chickadee calls]

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. [Boreal Chickadee calls backed by wind]

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.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org     November 2013/2015   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#  SotB-BOCH-01-2011-11-01     

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