Nest building

Even though it has been chilly out there this week the birds are already busy declaring territories, courting and some are already building their nests.

Last week we were out walking when we noticed a pair of chickadees keeping an eye on us. They also had their eye on the end of a branch that seemed to be hollow. Knowing that chickadees often choose such sites for nest building we pretended we weren’t watching and just hung around quietly.

This is what we saw.

022The chickadees were using old cattail fluff to line the nest. The cattails were growing in the nearby swamp which would also be a great place to catch insects to feed a growing family.

023You can’t see it in these photos but the chickadee is patting down the fuzzy warm fluff to line the nest in there.

024The chickadee also used its breast to shape the nest inside the hole in the branch. Both chickadees took turns doing this.

021These stills don’t really show the movement made by these busy birds but hopefully you sort of get the idea. Here is some more information about our state bird, the black capped chickadee. Most of us can recognize them but knowing more about them will let you observe what they are up to more easily.


Black capped chickadees and their nests

I spend a lot of time wandering around in the woods and at this time of year I always have my eye out for nesting activity and for nesting sites.

Many people have asked me how to find bird nests and the truth is, we walk by bird nests all the time. It is good to leave the birds alone while nesting but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep a stealthy eye on them. Our overt attention to a bird nest can cause more harm than good, by the way, and can also alert predators to the location of the nest so please be discreet if you go nest hunting.

Look at the scene above. There is an active nest there. Can you see it?

Chickadees are nesting in this hole and may even have eggs there. We watched as one came and went with food in its mouth and saw both at one point as one left and the other stuck its head out, leading me to believe there may be eggs. If you look at the larger picture this is the little branch poking out in the middle of the picture. Chickadees tend to nest in holes that are quite small and also fairly close to the ground. If they see you watching them they will pretend they have no interest in that hole so you sort of have to watch them on the sly. I have developed a good sideways glance and suggest you do, too, if you want to watch a nest….