Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Clever little birds...



This morning at the Pheasant Branch stream corridor, two members of JFNew relocated the log that a pair of Black-capped Chickadees has been excavating for the past few weeks. As you can see from my previous post, the loose log was propped up against a gabion wall that's scheduled to be replaced with rootwad next month due to serious erosion problems. Additionally, the log was out in the open and offered too much temptation for the overly curious. After emailing Middleton Public Lands, a decision was made to relocate the log before eggs were laid in the cavity.

The log was moved approximately 30 feet up the bank from its original location, then wedged between the ground and a tree for stability. It's definitely an improved and more inconspicuous location, but would the chickadee pair be able to find it? Three other birders were present as we watched some rather amazing bird behavior.

At first, the chickadee pair were quite panicked. From nearby branches, the two birds kept flying down to where the log used to be, uttering an array of distress calls. This went on for a few minutes, but then the two began expanding the range of flights to and from the original location, choosing higher branches after each pass. Eventually, one of the chickadees spotted the relocated log, inspected the cavity, came back out and gave out a sharp "twip-it" call. Immediately, the other chickadee flew right to the log and the two birds resumed excavating the cavity.

Success!

Black-capped Chickadee © 2009 Mike McDowell

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