It looks like my bluebird friends will nest elsewhere this spring, but I was delighted to see that a pair of chickadees has moved into the bluebird house on the fence. I was smoking a cigar and reading my Sports Illustrated out in the back yard yesterday afternoon and caught a glimpse of just the blur of something entering the bluebird house. I watched intently for a full 10 minutes before she emerged, and flew to a nearby limb to her doting and chatting husband. My suspicions are that the tiny chickadee hen had laid her first egg.
It is amazing how quickly birds can build a nest when they finally decide on a piece of acceptable real estate. Wrens are the fastest. They can build a makeshift nest in your tool shed while you’re mowing the lawn. I have seen bluebirds complete a nest in one day. I don’t know how long the chickadees took, but I expect it was a quick endeavor.
Chickadees will lay between 5 and 7 eggs, a fairly large number for a songbird. But they usually have just one brood per year. Once all the eggs are in place, the incubation period is between 11 and 13 days. So I expect to hear the pitter-patter of little bird feet in about two weeks. The young ones then fly the coop in another 14 to 18 days.
Though disappointed that my bluebirds are nesting elsewhere, I’m happy to welcome my little chickadee family to the neighborhood.