Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Whistling while they work!

Nest construction along the Pheasant Branch creek corridor is well underway. Black-capped Chickadees are busy excavating nest cavities in dead stumps and logs. Both the male and female take turns working away at the rotten wood, carrying beak full after beak full of tiny woodchips from the cavity. They'll find a high perch several feet away from the site and drop the bits, sometimes watching them as they fall to the ground or into the water.

Just as one chickadee exits the unfinished cavity, its mate quickly enters it. They'll do this for hours each day until the excavation is complete, whereupon the female begins to build the nest. If one chickadee spends more time inside the cavity, the other will patiently wait perched on a nearby branch until its turn to load up. For a bird photographer, this fascinating behavior is a great opportunity to get close-up shots of chickadees. They're so preoccupied with their task they'll tolerate fairly close approach.

All images © 2012 Mike McDowell

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