Just a quick final report on my last Black-capped Chickadee nestbox. I watched the box on and off on the morning of their expected fledge date of June 24th, their 18th day in the nest. I didn't see any signs of nestlings thinking about leaving, like peeking out the nest hole, or parents coaxing them. I had to leave for work around 1:00pm, still hosting a box full of chickadees.
I didn't get home until after dark, so I had to wait until morning to check if they had fledged. When I peeked through the top, I saw the nest was still full of little chickadees. But within a few hours, it started to look like today was the day!
Mom and dad weren't entering the box as often, and then the first little chickadee stepped up to look out at the big world outside the box. He quickly turned and went back in to the safety of his nest.
I kept an eye and ear on the nest, listening and watching for the sound of adults beckoning the chickadees to fledge. When I heard the adult call, it was followed by a chorus of scratchy little calls emanating from inside the box. Within a couple hours, the fledging had begun.
I got to see two leave the box. Others were easy to find in nearby trees, calling that scratchy, high-pitched little "che-bee" call. I also knew it was one of the six when I saw a chickadee taking short little flights ending with clumsy landings.
One flew across our small yard to the front of the greenhouse and held on for dear life to a rubber gasket. He eventually had the sense to take the short flight to the roof, but the slight pitch there made his initial landing tough. Everything has to be learned for these little guys!
The young ones are just too cute for words! The feathers on the top of their heads stand up on end. They have a stubby little tail. And in varying degrees, they all have clown lips, where the corners of their beaks are still yellow and soft.
But in no time, their fluffiness will be gone. They'll grow out their tail feathers and lose those clown lips too. In just a matter of weeks, they'll be unidentifiable amongst the flock of identical-looking chickadees raiding our birdfeeders.