Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Chickadees nest in drinking fountain

Ah! Here we have the perfect antidote to the creature in the previous post, at least for some of you. While the aforementioned hognosed snake is utterly (and inexplicably) terrifying for some, the following animals strike fear into the hearts of exactly NO ONE.
While making a brief stop at a state park on one of my recent NettieBay Lodge trips in northern Michigan, we noticed a pair of Black-capped Chickadees making a nest in an odd place. The wooden post that supports this drinking fountain had a nice round hole just opposite the spigot, and the chickadees were industriously laboring to perfect the hole.

Tame and confiding, as chickadees usually are, I warranted only a brief over-the-shoulder glance. The birds paid our group no mind, and many a photo was taken.

The architectural dimensions of the drinking fountain hole were not acceptable to the birds, and they busily chipped away at the wood to bring the potential home up to spec.

I don't know why the hole was there in the first place - it appears manmade - but the cavity-nesting chickadees don't miss a trick and of course viewed the crevice as a potential nest site, even though it is only a few feet off the ground. Not only that, but the fountain is sure to be a popular spot for humanoids come warmer weather and busy days for the park. Whether this nest site works out for the birds remains to be seen, but I hope that it does. If the chickadees ended up using it, they'd probably have eggs in there by now, and would likely have their brood out of the nest before people traffic picks up too much.

One of the sexes - they're virtually identical - fidgets as it waits its turn to assist in the construction project. Shortly after I made this photo, the birds switched places. Chickadees are anything but lazy, and work hard at everything that they do.

Their tameness is endearing. With a little effort, chickadees can be trained to land on one's hand if a bit of seed is offered as an enticement. One time, I was walking along a brushy shoreline of Lake Erie during a flight of Black-capped Chickadees, which had probably just crossed the lake from Canada the prior night. Toting my scope along, I glanced back to see that one of the chickadees had boldly hopped aboard one of the tripod legs and was hitching a ride!

If all goes well with the drinking fountain nest, this is what the innards will look like once the chickadees have packed it with nesting material. An emerald-green bed of moss will welcome the fledglings into the world, and for a brief time their abode will be one of the plushest of any of our songbirds.



Lisa Rainsong said...

Jim, this is simply delightful!

Auralee said...

The fear of snakes is very common, and not necessarily inexplicable:


LOVED the chickadees!!!! Thanks for a charming set of photos!