Monday, May 25, 2009

Chick-A-Dee (dee) Observations by a Backyard Naturalist

Chickadee with spider in mouth

For the past few years, we've been lucky enough to have a nesting pair of Chickadee's in a Birch tree, just outside our livingroom window. Chickadee's get their name from the adorable call they use to call to their mate. If one was to inhale helium and then saying "chick-a-dee-dee" and you may end up with a Chickadee sitting on your shoulder.

Even as I'm typing this on my deck, this sunny Memorial Day, I can hear them calling to each other as they return to their brood.

One bird tends to stay with the nestlings, while the other's out getting a few bugs.

When the "shopper" comes back with food, it makes the chick-a-dee-dee call, and as it gets closer to the nest it will make a shorter call which I think is a "coast is clear" call to which the bird inside, makes a return call, and quickly flys out of the nest.

We did have a few times that I thought they'd died, as we've had 3 small birds hit our windows recently. I had thought one of them may have been the female chickadee, since it had similar but much plainer markings. In many song bird species, the males are usually much more colorful than the females, turns out both male and female chickadee's are the same color.

I was pretty upset when I first discovered this "female" bird and called a sympathetic neighbor (she rescues birds every summer), and took a picture of the bird before I buried it in my flower bed, so I could identify it later. Still not sure what type it is but I know it's not what I thought it was.

Our chickadee's are very busy right now feeding they're chick or chicks. I can't see into the nest to figure out how many. It's only about 5 feet off the ground so it isn't too hard to see into, but the hole is very deep. Tried several times to get Vince to stand next to the hole without making a silly face, but was unsuccessful. So I'm posting this picture so readers can get a better idea on how easily accessible this nest is. Luckily, even if a cat could get to it, I'm not sure they'd be able to reach into the nest and get a snack out.

And, it seems Memorial Weekend is when our "State Bird" the Mosquito (wink, wink) comes out in full force. Great for the birds, not so great for us walking blood banks. Time for us all to smell like toxic waste. I'm going to give a herbal repelent I bought in Kauai, one more try, as I can't stand regular repelents.

The picture is of our attempt at curbing our mosquito problems with a Mosquito Magnet. This is after just a few days and they are in a one gallon ziploc bag. It does seem to help, at least out in the yard.

chickadee waiting for "Coast is Clear" call

But I hope this little Chickadee get busy and makes some more bug-eating babies.