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30 www.northmainewoods.org Boreal comes from the Latin word for north. For example Aurora Borea- lis means Northern Lights. The true boreal forest takes hold of the planet above the 50th parallel where the oaks and maples of the south have given way to spruce and firs. Fortunately there are pockets of this forest type throughout northern Maine which means that birds more typically found inCanadacanbediscoveredrighthere.Youjusthavetoknowwheretolook. Here are your boreal targets Spruce Grouse Gray Jay Boreal Chickadee Black-backed Woodpecker and American Three-toed Woodpecker. Plus thereareseveralwarblerspeciesthatyouwontfindfarthersouthinMaine Cape May Bay-breasted Tennessee Wilsons and Mourning. Stay alert for two northern flycatchers too Yellow-bellied and Olive-sided. It helps to know the trees especially the difference between spruce and fir. Both have the conical form of a Christmas tree though the shape of the balsam fir is much more uniform in all ages. Spruces get pretty ragged as they age. Fir bark is smooth spruce bark is rough. This matters because the boreal species are best found around spruce but fir is more prevalent and can fool you. While traipsing about the logging roads look for good stands of spruce. Boreal Chickadees are usually the easiest to find. They like dense stands of young spruce though they tolerate fir. Except when nesting they are gen- erally noisy. They make the same chick-a-dee sound as the black-capped chickadees but distinctively wheezier. They are shier than their cousins but they can still be lured into view by squeaks and pishes. Gray Jays are also relatively easy. They like tall thinned stands of spruce where they glide from treetop to treetop. Jays are raucous often heard be- fore seen. They are curious and investigate visitors. They are notorious camp robbersandoftenassociatepeoplewithfood.Nearcampsitessomejaysmay even come in for a hand out. Spruce Grouse are tricky. They prefer to stay under deep coniferous cover where they are nearly impossible to spot. However they sometimes come out to the edge of the road to forage and take dust baths. In early spring males may come out in the road to strut. Later hens bring their chicks out to for- age on insects. Both sexes feed on needles high in a spruce and they relish tamarack needles in late summer. The best bet for finding them is to look for thickets with a mossy forest floor on the edge of damp areas dominated by black spruce tamarack and cedar. Blackspruceisthekeytofindingtherarewoodpeckers.Redsprucedominates the mountain and maritime forests of Maine. White spruce prefers the sunny edges. But black spruce likes it cold and damp. It is easily recognized because it grows in poor boggy soil. To compensate it sheds the lower branches and needles that it doesnt need giving the tree a tall lollypop shape. Both the Black-backed Woodpecker and the very similar American Three- toed Woodpecker have a fondness for grubs and beetles that hide under the bark of dead and dying conifers primarily spruce. Other woodpeckers drill holes directly into the bark to get at such delicacies. These woodpeckers chip from the side stripping patches from the tree. They are specialists thriving in areas disturbed by fire beaver flooding and timber harvesting. The American Three-toed Woodpecker depends almost exclusively on black spruce. The Black-backed Woodpecker also prefers black spruce but will for- age on other conifers such as hemlock and tamarack. Both birds are hard www.mainebirdingtrail.com The 45th parallel bisects the state just north of Bangor. Midway between the Equator and the North Pole this line also marks the edge of a transition between the hardwood forests of the south and the conifer forests of the north. By the time you pass the checkpoint into the North Maine Woods youve crossed into a new world the very beginning of the boreal forest. in the Boreal Forest BirdingBirding by Bob Duchesne Wilsons Warbler Spruce Grouse Hen