Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

May 31, 2012

Bye Bye Baby(s)

I woke up yesterday and started my day in usual fashion; a morning coffee, played some Angry Birds, checked my email, a few household chores, a trip to Walmart to save us one on the weekend. It was a pleasant morning, finally having a break from all that humidity. Some love it but I certainly don't and especially while we are still in May. It just should not hit +38c at this time of year. I've been hiding out more at home lately just because of how warm it has been. But yesterday, wow, I could go out and not perspire after 5 minutes outside. I was very tempted to even visit my closest stomping ground but for whatever reason, I was pulled to remain at home.

The nest of Chickadees have been quite vocal and active the last few days. The little ones are sounding like Chickadees now. As I pass the nest box, that's all I could hear within was "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" over and over again, often overlapping with the siblings. On Monday, doing my usual daily bits out back, passing the house many times, I began to notice little bird faces peering out at me. Finally, a visual of the little ones! At least a face anyways. I was so excited, snapping a quick grainy pic with my Blackberry and posting it on Facebook immediately. I quickly finished what I had to do and raced inside and got the big gun out, my Sigma. This was my first real shot of one on Monday. What a cutie!

And then suddenly there were two peering out at me. One trying to push the other out of the way for a better view of his own. I could see the curiosity on their little faces. But they were also scared too, at times quickly dropping back down in the nest box out of sight if I made a move.

So with that on Monday, and similar actions on Tuesday, I knew that the time was approaching for them to leave the nest. I didn't exactly expect it to happen yesterday, or perhaps how it all happened is maybe what I mean?

It started off with more of one young bird peering through the hole at the big world outside. He was REALLY vocal today. And often had part of his head sticking out for a better view. The parents were still buzzing in and out of the house too. They were cleaning up it seemed, taking bits and pieces of whatever out and dropping it. They were also sitting in the big tree across the yard making all sorts of noises and calls. I thought it was my presence but I've been around through it all and the Chickadees have been pretty good about it. I just keep a respectful distance and they go about their business.

And again, occasionally there would be two faces staring out the hole.

The calls from the parents and babies within became louder, more intense.  I could feel the energy.  It was like a build up to what was about to happen. 

Out popped the first baby's head a little more, with even more calling.

And in a split second he was taking his first flight out. He went straight out, up and across the yard to the big tree over the swing. I can compare his flight to be similar to that of Woodstock from The Peanuts as seen in this one minute video from YouTube. It was kinda crazy, lacking style and control; but the little guy knew where he wanted to go and he got there in one shot. His landing had a couple stumbles and I thought he was going to fall but he kept his balance and stayed up there. Pretty awesome first flight ever into the big world! I'd say it was a 25 to 30 ft distance. And he joined his parents with even louder callings which probably meant "Come on guys, this is amazing! You need to see what is out here!"

And then another popped his head out. He/she was as fearless as the first. And just like that, out of the nest box he came. He too went right for the big tree across the yard.

And landed successfully.
A third little bird also made a quick dart out into the great big world, landing on the telephone wire that runs through the tree.
And then a fourth.  I was in awe, wondering how many were going to surface from this nest box.  I was watching the whole ordeal, taking photos AND texting Angie.  I so wished she was here to witness this.
Number four also went to the big tree where his family was.  I can't say the 6 birds all calling in the tree was deafening but what a hell of a lot of noise from these guys.  I wondered if that was it.
And then yet another little head peeked out of the box.  As you can see in the photo below, with the feathers puffed out on top of his head, he had a fearful attitude towards the idea of leaving the comforts of home.  But with the coaxing of the others, he took his first flight out, went about half way across the yard and then turned back to the nest box.  I don't think he knew exactly how to get back into it (not knowing what his house looks like on the outside)...
so he landed on the clothes line that runs above it.  He too joined the calling of the others but stayed in the lilacs that grow around their nest box.
And with everyone now out of the nest box, although I wasn't entirely certain that was it for a few more minutes, the parents went into action of gathering food and seemingly trying to locate all their young.  The babies were calling and hopping all over the place in the trees. 
The regular feeding of insects the past couple weeks was now replaced by bits from the feeders.  Unfortunately the peanut bits were still far to big to give to the babies and the adults would pull them back out, break them further on the branches and then give the young smaller bits.

I lost sight of the babies in the growth, only catching glimpses of them here and there now when they moved or an adult flew in. Time got lost with me, the camera was put down, and I was watching everything happening now. The babies were spreading out, leaving the big tree so close to their nest box and off to other trees in neighbours' yards. Two went two houses east, one went two houses west, one went to the apple trees at the back of our yard and the last guy, the timid one, flew towards the house and landed in the pines right out back. And the parents were flying all over the place, catching up with each of the little ones.

It was pure insanity and chaos, or that's what it felt like, as I got lost in it all and trying to keep track of everyone myself. It only got crazier when a Blue Jay appeared moments later and flew right into the pines near the timid one. The Jay was screaming, the little one's calls changed to a distress call and both parents flew in and surrounded the Jay, making angry sounds at the Jay. I am not entirely certain if the Jay was going after the little one. I've heard stories of such but wasn't waiting to decide what he was up to. I too stepped in, grabbing my claw rake and lifting it up into the tree, hoping to scare off the Jay by directing the handle in his direction. He was out of reach by mere feet and wasn't going anywhere, still screeching and screaming, making all the Chickadees very upset. I had a few peanuts in my pocket and tossed them far out into the grass. The Jay darted out of the tree and after the peanuts, scooping one up before the Squirrels moved in, and then he left.

I think it was about two hours from when the first young Chickadee left the nest box until it went all quiet out back, well, quiet for any sort of noise from any Chickadee. As I type this, it's nearing 24 hours later, and I have still yet to see or hear a Chickadee.

This happened a few years back when the Chickadees nested in that same box. Unfortunately Angie and I missed the first flights of all by mere hours when we went to Niagara on the Lake for an overnight. We were gone not much more than 30 hours and in that time, the babies fledged, and the family left. We were worried when we came home to no sight or sound of any Chickadees. I waited 3 or 4 days until I finally took the nest box down and unscrewed it to see what may have been inside... which was one very clean and empty nest.

That happened in June of that year (2010 I think). And we did not see another Chickadee in our yard again until later in the Autumn season. It kinda boggled my mind really. Here is ample food, water and shelter for these birds. They take full advantage in the colder months and why wouldn't they after the fledge in the late Spring? So much easier when there are half a dozen bird feeders about to help their young along. But I guess having them all go off into the wild is best, not relying upon our bird feeders as their main food source. We may move one day and who is to say the next family would even consider setting up a bird feeder?

I was so happy to witness the fledglings but sad too, as now it was all over. And the thought of them not returning again until October or November?!?! *sigh*

All I can say is "Bye Bye Baby(s)" and "Good Luck".


Angie in T.O. said...

Great blog, you made me feel like I was right there with you. :)

Lynda said...

Great blog Rob. How special is was for you to witness this awesome event! Thanks for sharing it all with us through the great pictures and the narrative - it is the next best thing to being there.

Anonymous said...

I just read it, is simply great, you should be a writer!!

Anonymous said...

I just read it, is simply great, you should be a writer!!

Anonymous said...

I just read it, is simply great, you should be a writer!!

Anonymous said...

I loved reading your story about the Chicadees. You're lucky to have a Chicadee couple nest in your birdhouse. I have one but never saw any birds nest in there. :( Mind you, I do get them feeding at my feeder and nesting in my neighbours' trees.

Rob said...

Thanks for the read and all the comments! :)

We miss them and can't wait for the cooler days and their return.

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Debbie Gallo said...

What an amazing experience. Great description, Rob!