19 May 2013

Chestnut-backed Chickadee Nest

As a fun home project, my daughter and I decorated and hung a chickadee house this spring. Within a few days, we had a chestnut-backed investigating it.

We watched the Chickadees faithfully bring supplies into the house, and then eventually started hearing the peeps of chicks. The peeps grew stronger and louder for about 2 weeks, and then one day stopped. It seemed the chickadee family had successfully raised their young!

On the unlikely hopes that a second family will still rear young, we cleaned the house out yesterday. The nest they had built inside was amazing - made of animal hair and a little bit of grass.

After taking the bottom off of the house, this is what we saw:
 The nest extended to the corners of the house, packed very tightly.

We took the nest out, and it was concave in the middle. It was quite clean - just a couple droppings that likely were left the day the birds fledged.

You can see the grey animal hair well on the left side of the nest, but when viewed in person, it was obvious that the nest was probably 60% or more animal hair. This was a good reminder at how resourceful birds are in finding the materials they prefer (or need) for nesting and eating.

My daughter and I had a great time building and decorating the house, and we took care to research proper placement. It all paid off, and we're looking forward to being the landlord for more bird tenants in the future!


  1. A great photograph. However, the bird - male - in the photograph is not, however, a Chestnut-backed Chickadee (in the Tit family Paridae). He is a House Sparrow in full mating plumage. Passer domesticus in the family Passeridae. The two species are quite different in size: the Chickadee being no longer than 4.9" beak to tail tips and weighing at most at 12.5 grams; the House Sparrow male reaches 6.3" and weighs between 24-39 grams.

  2. Hi Anner,

    Yes, this is very obvious, eh? I went back through my photos to see how this happened. Apparently I've had it mislabeled for 5+ years in my photo organizer. Thanks for pointing it out - the new photo most definitely is a chectnut backed chickadee taking from the same outing as the house sparrow.