Back in early May, the chickadees got me all excited by removing woodchips from the nest box and pulling wool from my nesting material ball. But after all this activity, they vacated the nest leaving a partially completed nest.
This is not uncommon with chickadees, and I knew that, but I still found it hard to not be disappointed. And I pretty much gave up on the possibility of chickadees nesting in one of my 3 nestboxes this summer.
Lo and behold, over the last few days, I've been seeing some evidence of chickadee nesting behavior. Just a few days ago, a chickadee was gathering wool from my now-ratty-looking nesting ball.
Then yesterday, I saw chickadee(s?) entering the nestbox in the backyard. Was it active? I'd need to keep an eye on it!
So today, I think I got some pretty good evidence that there are babies in that box! It's just hard telling what stage they're at.
I saw one chickadee bringing a big juicy bug into the box; that could be for the incubating mom or for both mom and babies.
Then I saw a chickadee carrying a fecal sac out of the box. The fecal sac is a mucous lined sac containing the excrement of nestlings.
Meanwhile, in our front yard, a chickadee was checking out a different nestbox and one was calling the soft fee-bee song, which Don & Lillian Stokes state is used "by the adults as they approach the nest" or during mate-feeding. So I checked out the nestbox that was within 10-feet of the chickadee and there was nothing going on.
Then later on in the afternoon, I approached the log-home style nestbox (unfortunately, the top does not hinge open for monitoring) and tapped on the side. Nothing flew out so mom was either unphased or out for the moment. There were also no cheeping coming from inside the box. As I backed off, a pair of chickadees approached and one entered and emerged a very short time later.
So here's what I'm thinking. The nestbox is most likely active and I'm going to surmise that at least one egg has hatched but that the nestling(s) is young enough that it is not verbalizing yet.
If (and I know there's a lot of assuming going on) this is the case, the young will emerge less than 16 days from now, around July 21-22.
Until then, I'll continue to watch and see how things progress. I'm disappointed that I won't be able to monitor the box for Cornell's NestWatch like I did last year, but I'm still happy to have an apparently active nestbox in the yard! I'll keep you posted.