Birds of the Boreal Forest

Canada’s Boreal Forest provides critical habitat for birds. Here’s how TNC Canada works to protect this important landscape.

The Canadian Boreal Forest, the largest intact forest left on Earth, is home to some of North America’s most impressive animals—like the woodland caribou. This massive forest also provides critical habitat for birds. In fact, 325 North American bird species rely on the boreal forest for nesting or migratory stopover habitat.

TNC Canada is part of a large-scale agreement, which aims to implement a bold vision for a sustainable future in 22 million acres of Canada’s boreal forest in Manitoba.

You can support this work by making a secure online donation.

Northern Shrike © Bob Griffith

haven for songbirds

Every spring, nearly 3 billion songbirds travel to the Boreal, including 1 billion sparrows and half-a-billion woodland warblers. In the Fall, 3 to 5 billion birds (adults and young) take to the skies once more to return to their favored wintering grounds—in the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean and South America.

Canada's Boreal Forest provides breeding habitat for more than 80 percent of the global populations of 14 species, including the Northern Shrike. This predatory songbird breeds in the Boreal's open deciduous or coniferous woodland, taiga, thickets, bogs, and scrub.  

Bufflehead 640x400Bufflehead by Fyn Kynd Photography, Flickr, CC by 2.0

abundant fresh water

The Canadian Boreal Forest features a quarter of the world's wetlands, which provide vital ecosystem services, and its 200 million acres of fresh surface water are uncontaminated and relatively pristine.

Because of this, more than 75 percent of North American waterfowl rely on the forest for breeding, molting and migration.

American Three-Toed Woodpecker 640x400American Three-toed Woodpecker by David A Mitchell, Flickr, CC by 2.0

unbroken habitat

Each individual species has its own habitat requirements. Some need particular combinations of trees for nesting and foraging. Some require huge swaths of unbroken forest and will not cross even the narrowest of lumber roads. Because the Canadian Boreal Forest remains largely unbroken, migratory birds have been able to return to their favored breeding grounds again and again. 

This is why TNC Canada works with First Nations and other partners in Manitoba to support forest management planning and Indigenous-led land-use planning.

Great Gray Owl 640x400Great Gray Owl by Fyn Kynd Photography, Flickr, CC by 2.0

Learn More

TNC Canada works with partners to protect the Boreal Forest and the vital habitat it provides for some of North America’s most colorful and beloved birds. For more information about the importance of Boreal Forests to birds, visit:

To support our work protecting Canada's Boreal Forest for people and wildlife, make a secure online donation.


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