Nesting — continued

Almost every walk in the backyard these days reveals another bird working on its nest.  This time it was a pair of Black-capped Chickadees excavating a nest in a rotting stump about 2 feet tall and right next to the trail.  The birds had no hesitation in flying in and out of the nest with me standing only about 10 feet away.  While one bird chipped away at the interior of the stump, its mate oversaw the process from a nearby shrub, but was silent (I guess I must not have been too threatening).

The perfect hole, just  chickadee-sized, in a partially rotten log.  The female does the nest excavation, and I could hear her chipping away on the interior of the log as she enlarged her chamber.

The perfect hole, just chickadee-sized, in a partially rotten log. Both male and female excavate the nest hole, but the female completes the nest by adding moss, and any insulative hair or feathers she can find to the nest cup that will hold the eggs and chicks.  

It will probably take dozens of trips to clear a space big enough to lay the clutch of 6-8 eggs.

It will probably take dozens of trips to clear a space big enough to lay the clutch of 6-8 eggs.

Waiting for a turn at the nest excavation...

Waiting for a turn at the nest excavation… Chickadees are usually very vocal when they spy threats (like human presence near a nest) to themselves or each other .  The “dee-dee” call alerts wildlife in the nearby vicinity of a disturbance, and the number of dee-dees in the call appears to be correlated with the level of the perceived threat.  

Once she has finished with nest construction and laid her clutch of eggs, the female incubates them continuously for about two weeks.  During this time, the male brings food to her, instead of her leaving to find her own food and allowing her eggs to cool. Embryos develop rapidly with this constant attention and chicks hatch within two weeks. Both parents then feed the chicks which grow rather rapidly and are lured out of the nest to be fed by their parents after as little as 10-12 days.  This rapid development from egg to fledgling (about a month) minimizes the risk of predators finding the nest and devouring eggs or chicks.

Another trip back into the nest hole to enlarge the nest chamber.

Another trip back into the nest hole to enlarge the nest chamber.

7 thoughts on “Nesting — continued

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