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Do You Know Your Boreal?

Species found in the book Mother Earth: Boreal Beauty of the Peace Country

by Sharon Krushel

See to purchase online and to find a list of locations where its sold. You can also contact Sharon at 780-624-6324 to order direct or to find out about presentations, events and educational resources. Or, email

For pronunciation of the Cree names, download this app: KTCEA Elders Speak

Boreal Chickadee -- Poecile hudsonicus

French: Mésange à tête brune

There are five kinds of chickadees in Canada. In the Boreal region we are fortunate to have two species whose ranges overlap.

Photo by Klaus Peters


Canada Lynx -- Lynx canadensis

Beaver: kʼéémóiwu nóóda | Cree: pisô | French: Lynx du Canada

This illusive, cool cat lives primarily in dense Boreal Forests. It has tufts of black fur on the tips of its ears. Its big, furry paws can spread as wide as 10 cm, allowing it to tread stealthily on deep snow, especially when hunting its favourite food—the snowshoe hare. 

Photo by Colin Ruxton


Black-capped Chickadee -- Poecile atricapillus

Beaver: tsíbeisee | Cree: pîcikísîsîs | French: Mésange à tête noire

A woman named Vero from France came hiking with me [Sharon] in the Peace River hills. When we heard a chickadee calling, she said, “We call them mésanges,” which means “my angels.” These faithful, cheery companions tough it out through the winter along with most of us Canadians but without the benefit of toques and boots!

Chickadees have a title track call, “chickadee-dee-dee,” or in Cree “pîcikísîsîs” (pronounced peachy-kee-see-sees). They also have a two-note tune that’s interpreted by some as “Hey Sweetie!” and by others as “Cheeseburger!” I’ve written a song about their song. Find it on our videos and resources page at

Photo by Sharon Krushel


Snowshoe Hare -- Lepus americanus

Beaver: gah | Cree: wâpos | French: Lièvre d’Amérique

The snowshoe hare is found in every province and territory in Canada. This long-footed lagomorph is a master of disguise. As winter approaches, its summer-brown camo suit morphs into a warm, thick, white fur coat. It is most active between dusk and dawn.

Photo by Wendy Parkin


Cross Fox (Red Fox) -- Vulpes vulpes

Beaver: k’éédyįk’ázhí | Cree: masinâwahkîsîs | French: renard croisé

In spite of the species name, the red fox doesn’t always have red fur. One of the colour morphs is the cross fox, named for the black stripes—one down its back, and one across its shoulders.


Snowy Owl -- Bubo scandiacus

Beaver: dáázuuge | Cree: ôhô (owl) | French: Harfang des neiges

Snowy owls are not night owls. They breed in the land of the midnight sun where they like to go looking for lemmings for lunch.

The snowy owlets leave the nest when they’re about three weeks old and toddle about the tundra for a month or so until they learn to fly. Males mature into pure white plumage, while the females favour the fashion of a few brown feathers.

For the winter, some snowy owls stay in the Arctic while others go on tour, either checking out Canadian destinations further south, or heading off to see what the rodent hunting is like in Russia. One may be coming to a fence post near you!

Photo by Ron Marceau


See for online purchase and a list of outlets in the Peace Region. Contact Sharon at 780-625-6324 to order or to find out about presentations, events, and educational resources. Email:

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