I had been keeping my expectations in check and had essentially written the nest off as another incomplete nesting attempt. After all, I hadn't seen adults around the box much and I assumed I'd find an empty box. I approached the box making noise as usual, knocked on the side of it, then nonchalantly opened it.
Out flew momma bird! She had been incubating eggs! Peering in, I thought I saw 3 eggs but needed to check for sure. I quickly closed the box, ran back to the house to get a small mirror, reopened the box and was able to see 6 tiny eggs inside! I closed it up quickly, and within 1 minute, mom re-entered the box.
My last check had been Tuesday May 18; I found these 6 eggs on Sunday May 23. Chickadees lay an egg a day, so that's one on Tuesday, one on Wednesday, one Thursday, one Friday, one Saturday, and one Sunday. Did I miss a teeny egg or two when I checked on Tuesday?
NestWatch protocol calls for a second check-in during the egg-laying period to see if the number changes. So I checked again on May 25 - still 6 eggs. So I DID miss one tiny egg when I checked on May 18.
When I checked on the 23rd, I probably caught momma on her first day of incubation. She'll incubate 12-13 days, which means that hatching might start June 3-4. I can't wait!
Stay tuned - I'll share how they're doing in my next report.