Monday, May 3, 2010

Front Row Seat for Chickadee Nesting.

        At this  time of year it is appropriate to write about birds breeding . My last post was on Chickadees and their behaviour. Many chickadees have begun setting up nests which are usually a cavity dug into a tree trunk. Sometimes they will find an unoccupied nesting cavity. Sometimes they will find a suitable location behind large pieces of bark which are hanging on a tree. Chickades will also readily take up a nest box in your yard or way out in the boonies.

       A few years ago I was very fortunate to have a front row seat to watch chickadees hollow out a cavity in a tree and then raise youngsters. A dead birch tree was 3 m from my back step. The tree was over the fence and in my neighbor's yard.

       First I noticed a couple of black-capped chickadees pecking away on the birch trunk. I thought , "You poor little beggars! A birch has such hard wood!"  The chickadees knew more than I did. The wood inside the bark was quite rotten so it wasn't the challenge I thought. After a few days these two birds disappeared so I was disappointed and thought that they had abandoned the project.

       A few days later I noticed two boreal chickadees working on the cavity. I was happy again. It's amazing how much time they spend hollowing out the nesting cavity. They bring out a tremendous amount of saw dust. Well, the two boreals disappeared after a few days and I was saddened again.

       Well, you guessed it, black-capped chickadees showed up again. I have no idea if it was the same two birds. The hollowing out of the cavity seemed to take forever and I thought these birds would never nest. Things did cease on the construction scene and I still had birds. It was hard to tell if they were really nesting as they seemed to be continually coming and going. Finally, a change. The birds were carrying food into the nesting cavity. Now activity really picked up. Little baby chickades apparently have a huge appetite. Then they started peeping especially when food was brought to the nest so they were saying, "We're really hungry!" More feeding and noise and finally little heads appeared at the cavity entrance. More days of feeding, peeping and looking out of the cavity. Finally, one day four little feather puffs were fluttering in my lilac hedge. It didn't take many hours and the parents and youngsters were out of the area.

       Watching this take place was a thrill and and education at the same time. Not often do you get a front row seat for a few weeks. I took pictures of this event but they are not on digital.