On about June 14-15, five days before the nestlings’ estimated fledge date, I noticed a significant increase in parental activity. Mom and dad chickadee were making many more trips into the nest with juicy insects in their beak.
The parents seemed to became much more vocal as well, perching on branches just outside the nest. Most likely they were scolding chipmunks and squirrels and any other living thing they thought were getting too close to their babies (like me!)
What a change since last time! They each had big, beautiful black eyes and had all gained their namesake black cap. They were short-tailed but fully feathered. No more checks into this nest otherwise they might leave earlier than is good for them!
They're so beautiful! In just 3 days, they'll all take their first flight. In the days leading up to the big fledge day, they'll stretch and flap their wings to strengthen them for that flight. They'll fledge in the morning, maybe even before I get up and about. I'll try to check on them early on fledge day to try to catch their very first flights!
But the bad news (for me) is that even though they stay with their parents for a number of days, the little family unit immediately leaves the area. So after they fledge, I probably won't see the young anymore. The parents, however, will most likely return to my yard, leaving their young ones to join another group of chickadees. I'll welcome the parents back with open arms (and open feeders) to thank them for the little bundles of joy I've enjoyed observing over the last month.
If you are observing a nest and would like to report what you see, join Cornell Lab of Ornithology's NestWatch citizen science project. Talk to us in store if you have questions about NestWatch.
NestWatch Report #1
NestWatch Report #2
NestWatch Report #3
NestWatch Report #4