Biodiversity in the Boreal Forest: Birds
Nearly half of all bird species in North America use the boreal forest at some time during the year. It is estimated that at least three billion land birds, water birds and shore birds breed annually in Canada's boreal forest. Approximately three billion shorebirds, swans, and geese breed further north in the Arctic and travel through the boreal forest, using the wetlands as feeding grounds (NRCAN 2007). The boreal forest has the largest area of wetlands of any ecosystem in the world.
Many bird species, having adapted to the climate, are permanent residents of the boreal forest. Different species inhabit different types of boreal forest ecosystems, including deciduous-dominated forests, mixed forests, and coniferous stands. Some of the smaller birds of the boreal region include warblers, siskins, thrushes, flycatchers, kinglets, grosbeaks, sparrows, and vireos (Kavanagh 2006). Larger birds include owls, grouse, ducks, ravens, woodpeckers, ptarmigans and endangered whooping cranes. Resident birds are well adapted to the long cold winters, and many such as the ptarmigan and snowy owl change colour from one season to the next to camouflage themselves. Some birds such as the chickadee value heat over camouflage and stay a dark colour in the winter in order to absorb heat emitted from the sun (Kavanagh 2006).