Monday, May 6, 2013

Our family is aflutter--we are captivated by fluffy objects!

Chestnut-backed Chickadee by Tom Coroneos
Ever since I first heard the chirping in our bird house a week ago Saturday, we have been caught up in the chickadee drama. I've read online that the new chicks stay in the nest for 18-21 days, but since we don't know exactly when they hatched, we have no way of knowing when they will fledge. I am fairly certain that these are Chestnut-backed Chickadees.

Last week was unseasonably warm--about 20 degrees above average for this time of year. The 70+ degrees made it possible to sit on our deck and watch the chickadee activity. We both carried our bowls of cereal and hot beverages out for breakfast every day, and ate some lunches and dinners outdoors, too.

Jays are a threat to many smaller birds
As I mentioned in my previous post, a scrub jay flew straight to the birdhouse last week; Ralph chased it away, and put up a screen that would slow (but not stop) predatory birds. Even so, jays are extremely smart, and they are quite aware that young birds are nearby. Last Friday, while I was sitting with my binoculars trained on the adult chickadees bringing juicy insects and green larva/worms to their offspring, I saw a a pair of Stellar Jays flying from tree to tree nearby.

Then, I heard the call of a raven. The entire resident bird population went quiet.  I imagine that ravens are the biggest threat of all to the smaller birds around here, and for several minutes there wasn't a peep from any of them. Finally the adult chickadees resumed their constant collecting of food, but they did a lot more fluttering of wings, and flying branch to branch, before they headed home to deliver lunch.

This morning's viewing brought big rewards--we were able to see the young. At least we could see one jump to the entrance to his home while awaiting mom or dad to return with a meal. We have the feeling that the meals are coming a little less often--the parents need a break and baby needs to make his flight from the nest. I think the big event--the first flights--will take place within the next 24 hours.

Perhaps the most surprising thing to me about this whole period of observation is that Ralph and I have spent so much time sitting still watching this activity. We hardly ever sit anywhere near this long. It has been fun to have this opportunity to observe nature without the distractions of everyday life! I am reminded that the backpacking and hiking that we do are rewarding in similar ways.

For Chestnut-backed Chickadee info from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, click here.

We get a surprising amount of wildlife in Oakland--here are a few examples. 
This fawn visited us a couple of years back. 

Spiderlings disperse quickly! 

This sweet House Finch eats whatever he can get!



3 comments:

tomcoroneos said...

happy fledging! often the first stop is on the ground.
good luck.

backpack45 said...

They took off on Wednesday morning--we were not there for the maiden (?) flights, but I am telling myself that all will go well with our little family! At least all went well when they were in our care.

backpack45 said...

They took off on Wednesday morning--we were not there for the maiden (?) flights, but I am telling myself that all will go well with our little family! At least all went well when they were in our care.