[Tweeters] Black-capped Chickadees - 1, Squirrel - 0

John Tubbs johntubbsmb at gmail.com
Tue Jun 9 00:09:32 PDT 2015


Hi folks,

Thanks to all the people who responded to my previous post on the
potentially-carnivorous Douglas Squirrel trying to gain entry to the nest
box in our yard. I'm happy to report that my impromptu
squirrel-proofing worked, and all ended well. I actually got to see two of
the youngsters fledge today!

Assuming there were a normal number of eggs and young, I must have missed
the first ones fledge before I started watching the box about 8:00 this
morning. I had seen one of the young stick its head out of the hole
briefly the previous evening, and figured fledging would happen today.

When I started watching, the parents came to the nest box with food in
their mouths multiple times, but only entered the box sometimes. They
would stay at the entrance hole and peer in, but not enter, giving the
distinct impression they were trying to coax whoever was still inside to
come out to get the chow. Sure enough after about fifteen minutes of
watching, a youngster appeared in the nest hole and took that first leap
into its brand new world. Its flight looked more like that of a moth than
a bird but managed to get the bird safely into the shrubby thicket about
twenty feet from the nest box. Mom and dad were clearly watching and the
young one went far enough into the thicket that it should have been safe.

Not sure if there were any others left in the nest, I went out to water
some plants and was only about fifteen feet from the box when one parent
tried the food-displaying trick again, and another little head appeared
from the hole. Next, the parent flew back and forth in front of the nest
box, clearly trying to get the hungry baby to commit to coming out. Which
it then did, and flew within about a foot of my head to the same area where
the first one had gone. The flight controls were not working very well,
but I was impressed that it managed to land successfully on a small branch
where it seemed to be wondering what to do next. Mom or dad sat nearby
keeping watch.

I watched the box off and on a couple hours later and saw no indication of
the parents or anything else inside the box, so carefully opened in and
checked and sure enough - it was empty. It contained a very
nicely-constructed moss nest cup which I left in place for the time being.

So, the family is now on their own and subject to whatever nature has in
store at this point.

Next year, I'm planting a camera in the box in case another pair decides to
try it. Wish I'd had one this time...

And all my nest boxes will have metal protection around the entrance holes,
just in case.


John Tubbs
Lacey, WA
johntubbsmb AT gmail DOT com
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