Chickadees as excavators

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Since April 8th, a pair of black-capped chickadees has been hard at work excavating a den hole in the stumpy remains of the dead ornamental cherry beside my front porch. The hole even faces the chair where I usually sit. Wildlife watching has never been easier! And to think that just a couple of weeks ago when I was cutting up the fallen top of the dead elm in my yard, I strongly considering taking out the cherry snag as well. It’s not a thing of beauty — but it is rather charismatic nonetheless, I said to myself, and besides, if you care about biodiversity, you can never have enough standing dead trees.

It’s really quite astonishing to see birds with such small bills hammering away at the cherry wood and hauling out the sawdust one beakfull at a time. This morning I was up early enough to watch them start work. The couple appeared together in the lilac, flitted over to inspect the hole, then flew up — I presume to grab a quick bite to eat. Seconds after the whistle blew at the paper mill in Tyrone two miles away, the chickadees returned to start their shift, spelling each other as in the video (which I shot yesterday morning), and keeping up the pace for hours.

With two large black snakes living in or around the house, I have my doubts about whether this couple will be able to raise a brood here. Follow The Morning Porch to stay updated on their progress.

2 Replies to “Chickadees as excavators”

  1. Thank you for posting this video. I have a deep fondness for chickadees. And I hope those snakes can be satisfied with other prey.

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