April 5, 2012
For almost as long as we've been feeding the birds in the backyard, there has been birdhouses set about the grounds as well. And I figure it took about 3 long years before we finally had any activity with them.
To our surprise and delight, a pair of Black-capped Chickadees took over the funniest house of them all... a mock outhouse. See, Chickadees were a rarity for us over the first number of years. Sure we could go to the local parks and see them but none were found on our property until the Winter of 08/09. And come the Spring of 2009, a pair began excavating this birdhouse. It was an exciting number of weeks after once we knew they had settled in. So often we'd see Dad coming in with insects non-stop for hours at a time. Kinda weird really, seeing there are half a dozen feeders the adults normally pick from. But no, he was bringing his children natural food sources, the things they would feed upon in the wild with no bird feeders around.
In the final days of them here with us, we could hear the babies within the nest box. Angie would stress over them one minute and giggle like a school girl another when she heard the "peep peep peep". We left one day in June for an overnight to Niagara Falls. We were gone only 30 hours and in that time they fledged. I remember it drove us crazy the first couple days with not hearing or seeing any Chickadees. I believe it was one of the first things we did when we got back... walk in the door, drop the travel bags, I hugged Meadow and then we went outside to check on them. The silence drove us mad. About 4 days later I finally decided to open up the bird house and see what or if anything was inside. I was happy to only find a perfect looking nest and one that was very clean too. No egg shells remained, no feathers, just twig fragments and grass bits all firmly patted down into a perfect square (the shape of the box). So, yes, the family moved on with the young fledging successfully.
We began to see Chickadees more often after that, and more of them come the following winter.
2010 rolled around and nothing happened.
2011 a pair of House Sparrows took over the nest box, or so it seemed. We never heard much in the way of a new family inside. But those Sparrows were in and out of that box for weeks last Spring. Checking later in the year, it sure didn't look like they did anything in the box. Wood shavings remained but nothing looking like a nest.
Come 2012, early March and it seemed the House Sparrows had returned once again.
The male sat out front of the house, like he did last year, chirping away happily much of the days. Other Sparrows would come and check out the box too. Males and females. He wasn't defending the box like he did the Spring of 2011. It was almost like he was showing it off, to sell it. Well this is what it looked like to me, coming from the guy with the big imagination.
And at other times it appeared excavation had begun.
But I hadn't put any wood shavings in the box yet. And now with him going in and out of the box. I didn't want to disturb it.
After about a week and a half, he left. Did the lack of excavating material put him off? Perhaps the lack of a potential mate? I didn't see any pairing up with him and a female this season.
A couple weeks passed with nothing going on at the outhouse. And then last week Angie texted me to say she'd been noticing some Chickadees checking out the box. I watched the next day, didn't see any action, and decided to get out there and put a couple inches of wood shavings inside. Finally come yesterday, April 4th, I watched a pair of them really begin excavating. Both working at it, flying into the house, and removing the shavings. It was funny from where I stood, almost directly across the yard from the house, with a branch over my head and the Chickadees were landing above me and releasing the shavings. I watched them fall to ground as the birds would fly back into the house for another piece.
I, or rather we, are hoping that they do nest here. It's an exciting thing to have happen right in our own backyard. We will once again be full of excitement over the little family and often full of stress as we watch and worry with the neighbourhood cat population, visiting Hawks and other threats for a wild bird.
Could this be the same adult(s) from that first year? It is possible. But if not, we are both quite certain one of them is from the initial family line.
here is a shot from 2009... a sight we'd see often