Chickadee Nest

Chickadee with nesting material (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

21 May 2012:

Last week several families of chickadees fledged in Schenley Park.  Because they keep their nests well hidden, I had no idea so many chickadees were nesting until I encountered hotspots of begging babies.

What does a chickadee nest look like?  Marcy Cunkelman sent me photos of one in her yard.

The Nest:

Chickadees build their nests in cavities using old woodpecker holes, birdhouses, or holes they excavate for themselves in soft rotting wood.  It takes a pair of chickadees 7-10 days to excavate a new hole 5″ deep.  While digging they carry the chips away from the site.  Marcy’s chickadees saved a lot of time by using the PVC-pipe birdhouse she provided.

Chickadee eggs and nest (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

When the nesting hole is complete, the female spends 3-4 days lining it with wool, hair, fur, moss, feathers, fuzzy insect cocoons, and cottony fibers(*).  When it’s soft and cozy she lays 5-10 eggs.  Marcy’s chickadee laid six.

The Eggs

The eggs are 15.2 x 12.2 mm — smaller than a dime!  The female begins incubation after laying the next-to-last egg and incubates them alone until they hatch in 12-13 days.  Her mate feeds her on the nest so she doesn’t have to leave the eggs.


When the eggs hatch the babies are naked and sightless but soon begin to grow feathers as shown below.  At this stage their big wide mouths are their most noticeable feature.  The babies keep their parents busy filling those mouths.

Chickadee nestlings (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

At 12 days old, the babies look like chickadees and are the same size as the adults.  They can fledge at this age if the nest is attacked but will wait until they’re 16 days old if the nest is safe. Here the six babies are just a little too young to fledge.  They already look like chickadees.  Very cute!

Chickadee nestlings almost ready to fledge (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

Normally the entire brood fledges within 24 hours.  Marcy says hers fledged while she was out for the day.

Chickadees usually raise only one brood per year so this pair is done for now — except that they have a big job ahead of them. They have to teach six juveniles how to stay safe.

(photos by Marcy Cunkelman.  (*) Nesting information is from the Petersen Field Guide to Birds’ Nests by Hal H. Harrison)

p.s.  Black-capped and Carolina chickadees have mostly separate ranges (north and south) but on the chickadee border they hybridize.  Marcy’s house is on the chickadee border so she can’t say for sure which species nests here.

109 thoughts on “Chickadee Nest

    1. My Carolina Chickadee just died and I am very sad ?, she just pushed him out the nest.???

    2. I love Carolina Chickadee’s I got to bird houses outside my house and the Mom came and just had eggs,I am really amazed how the birds build the nest. I am exited for what will happen next.

    3. I have a chickadee nest with three eggs in a planter on my deck right out side my sliding glass door. This allows me to watch the mother brooding. I have to use alternative exits so I’m glad to know how long they brood

  1. Love the chickadees–such sweet little birds–actually had one eat from my hand. A few years back, I had a family in my birdhouse. Was so excited; but, the following year, some wrens were so aggressive that the chickadees were having a difficult time trying to make a nest–they put up a good fight, tho. This went on for a week, or so. The birdhouse was right outside of my kitchen window. I hung another house on the opposite side of the garage, but that didn’t change anything. Finally, decided to just take down the houses (of course, there weren’t any eggs). I didn’t know the wrens were such aggressive little birds.

    1. I’m currently going through this same scenario! The chickadees nested and laid 5 eggs in a bluebird house. Only 1 egg hatched. The wrens finally decided they liked the large potted geranium and nested there with 6 eggs. None have hatched yet. They’re all busy parents and appear to be sharing the yard for now.

    2. take some fishing line and pushpin tacks. Criss-cross a x pattern around the pushpins on the roof of the bird house-a square of line around roof , then a x across middle …then bring a strand of line attached to pins down a couple inches on either side of entry hole. You can put a x patter on sides also if you like…Wrens do not like nesting near or being around spider web is one theory and will avoid the bird house usually* ..It has worked for all of mine for years. It wont bother the chickadees…

  2. I had a chickadee nest in an old apple tree in my yard this spring. They were starting to bring food to the nest, so I assume that the eggs had hatched. But the house wrens returned and within a few days, I saw chickadees looking in the cavity but not going in. The male started singing again (singing both the Carolina and the Black-capped songs). House wrens just do not tolerate any other cavity nesters nearby. This happened years ago to a pair of titmice that nested in my yard.

  3. We put up a wren house recently (earlier than normal) and just noticed this am that a black capped chickadee has been investigating the house going in and out. I would much rather have them nesting than the wren. I’m afraid if the chickadees nest there that when the wren returns later this spring they will destroy the nest.

    1. Paula, that’s a possibility. In Pittsburgh the house wrens aren’t back yet … but they will arrive soon.

  4. Put wren guards on houses! There’s nothing sadder than finding a destroyed chickadee nest. Also you can attach a predator hole protector!

  5. Hi there- we have been hearing a pecking sound outside if our bedroom window. I went to investigate today only to find this dear bird under my window working diligently to make the opening larger. We knew some of the wood had rotted during the winter but apparently someone has or will be laying eggs. How long should we wait before repairing the area? We want to be sure that the eggs have hatched and the family is gone. Any advice is appreciated.
    Thank you.

    1. Maura, the bird is probably a woodpecker. It may be pecking to get bugs out of the wood or it may be making a nest. The amount of time to wait until the baby birds fly depends on the species of woodpecker. If you live in southwestern Pennsylvania here are a few woodpecker species that might with the following wait times:
      Northern Flicker: 12 days until the eggs hatch, then 24-27 more days until the baby birds fly = 36-39 days
      Red-bellied Woodpecker: 12 days until the eggs hatch, then 24-27 more days until the baby birds fly = 36-39 days
      Downy Woodpecker: 12 days until the eggs hatch, then 18-21 more days until the baby birds fly = 30-33 days
      Hairy Woodpecker: 12-15 days until the eggs hatch, 28-30 days more days until the baby birds fly = 30-45 days (more study needed on this species)
      Pileated woodpecker: This is a very large woodpecker, the size of a crow, and would have startled you by its size so I doubt this is the one hammering on your house. … It has a much longer nesting duration because it is such a large bird.
      If you don’t live in southwestern PA and would like to know more about woodpeckers in your area, please leave a comment with your location.

  6. The chickadees fledged from our bird box yesterday. Unfortunately we were not here to see it. However a youngster sat on the railing beside me in the evening sun. Very special moment for me.
    Will the nest be used again? Or should we clean it out now?
    (Nuthatches nested and fledged from the other birdbox- they keep coming back to visit the house. )
    Should we leave the nests or clean them out? And should we wait until autumn?

    1. Kathleen, here are some answers to your questions about chickadee nests. These answers come from Cornell Lab’s Birds of North America Online and apply to black-capped chickadees.

      “Reuse of Nest: Rare, except where alternative sites unavailable. When old cavities are reused, clutch size is larger and laying date is earlier. If a nest is lost to predation, typically replacement nest is some distance away. Distance between nests in subsequent years is usually further than 60 m. When reusing an old nest, or using the nest of another species (such as Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus) birds will further excavate the bottom of the nest cavity.”

      Artificial nest sites: “Chickadees prefer artificial nest snags to nest boxes, but for both types of artificial nest, use increases if cavity is filled with wood shavings.”

      Wild Birds Unimited’s Blog says this about cleaning out the nests:

    2. We recently set up a small bird house and to our delight a pair of chickadee’s nested and had six eggs. Babies hatched and give us joy every day.
      Question: what do the babies eat ???

    3. Kenny, the parents feed their babies insects, spiders and tiny caterpillars. The babies won’t eat seeds until they have grown up and flown from the nest.

  7. Our landscapers found a nest of chickadees while cutting down a dead tree in our yard. We were able to save the five babies, and placed them in a grass-filled container at the base of the former tree site. There was no nest since they were using the cavity of the tree trunk. I’m guessing they were 3-4 days old. Once the parents saw that they were safe, we moved the container to an overgrown honeysuckle vine immediately next to the tree site, hiding them from predators the best we could. We were able to watch the parents (from a window) swooping in and out of the container for two days. On the third day, the container was still in place but empty. Is it possible the parents were able to move them to another location? We don’t see any evidence of them anywhere, alive or dead, and the container was still intact with the grass still in place, and the one unhatched egg still inside. This leaves me to believe they weren’t consumed by predators, but seeing the size of the babies, I can’t imagine the parents would be able to lift them. We’re so worried about our little babies. 🙁

    1. Sheri, the parents cannot carry their young. Alas, the situation you describe sounds like a predator found them.

    2. I’m a retired forest ranger and although I did most of my work with Red Cockaded Woodpecker biology I found all kinds of birds in nest trees. I can tell you that like Kate said, predators take many young birds..and believe it or not one of the most common predators on baby birds are Squirrels. They are already adept at entering and discovering tree cavities so it’s a common food source for them.. Raccoons, snakes and other predatory birds take the balance of tree nested birds and ground nesters like quail etc are taken by coyotes in the Southeast, which are hurting their numbers significantly. DOMESTIC CATS do a serious number on birds esp vulnerable newly fledgling birds..I try to keep the cats away, but you can’t be everywhere.

  8. My dogs found a nest, is there anything I can do to protect the nest from them. One baby fell out but I put it back in. Would hate to see it happen again.

  9. OK so the birds keep pushing the babies out of the nest so what I did was took a bucket with a towel and a nesting in there and placed it by the old nest the parents are flying around it will they find it ? I want to be able to move it so that way my dogs can’t get it

    1. Jeanette, the parents can find it. If it’s chickadees, they expect the nest to be covered (in a box or hollow tree) so may be confused by an open top bucket.

    2. I have placed the bucket closers to the hole in the tree, and I have seen them go nine and out. What can I do for a more permanent place? So if I place it away from the old spot they will find their babies?

  10. Last weekend we had 2 chickadees hollowing out a nest in a tree stump on our campground site in Carver, MA. This weekend we saw they have 4 eggs (Sunday) in the nest. Not sure if momma will lay anymore this week while we are gone, but will see on Friday when we return. We should be able to figure out when they will hatch based on the number of eggs on Friday I hope. After they hatch and fledge, will the parents stay at the nest? We want to keep tabs on our little feathered friends. Should I put out suet cakes near the nesting area?

    1. After the eggs hatch the parents will be very busy feeding the young in the nest. After the young fly the family will stay nearby for a few days and then explore further. Chickadees don’t migrate so the parents will be nearby for as long as they live.
      Meanwhile, suet might be nice but it could attract mammals which would then discover & eat the chickadees’ babies. The parent chickadees picked that site because they think there’s already enough food. So in my view suet isn’t necessary.

    2. Help, I rescued a baby chickadee. My friends cat ran the parents away (or something?) The one I have was trying to fly, but when I shined a flashlight in on the others they didt look so well, in fact Im certain a couple of them were deceased. So Heartbreaking ! So o have the one. I’ve been up all night trying to care for it. He seems spunky and so friendly. I’m feeding him cat food broth but he only takes a tiny tiny portion.. If that. What should I do? I apologize for the heartbreaking story but at least I was able to save this baby. Even though he seems ok at the moment, I’m so afraid he may not make it. He/she is so sweet! Any tips?

    3. Pamela, if you know where the nest is – or was – put the baby chickadee in a bush or on a hidden branch near the nest, or even in the nest. The parents will find it and feed it. It’s important that the baby is not visible to predators. That’s why a bush is a good place.
      After you put it there leave the area for many hours. The parents wait until you’ve been gone for a while before they’ll come feed the baby. If you do these two things you’ve done the very best you can.

  11. Has anyone had a Blackcapped chickadee build her nest on the ground? I discovered a nest with four eggs while weeding in my perrenial flowerbed. All four eggs have hatched and are babies are four days old now. We’ve had chickadees in our apple tree holes and garage soffits but never on the ground….It seems so dangerous….we have Eagles and Hawks on a daily basis. They’re under a large Azaela shrub and well hidden by flowers, but extremely vulnerable .

  12. Have not seen chickadees at the bluebird box for weeks, so just now looked inside. 5 babies with mouths wide open surprised me!! I watched on and off for an hour from inside the house – no adult birds in sight. Would the eggs hatch and the parents abandon nest?

    I watch the next box daily from our porch. where we eat meals, and from the kitchen window. where I do dishes, prepare food, etc. So I see the box frequently throughout the day. In the spring there was lots of daily activity as they built their nest in this bluebird box. Is there a certain time of day that they bring food to their young?

    1. Ginger, wait and watch. If the parents saw you at the box they will wait until the coast is clear.

    2. OK, but I have seen no adult birds for weeks now. O winder if they met their demise somehow?

    3. The babies have to eat several times an hour. They would not be alive at all if their parents had been gone for weeks. Nesting birds are very secretive. Since these are alive, it’s best to leave them alone and stay away.

    4. The kids recently painted a birdhouse and we placed in the tree in our garden. Unfortunately I never paid much attention that we put it above the garden pond. Now the nest is occupied with 7 eggs and we are worried that when it is time for the babies to leave that they will plunge into the pond. I have read that it is not legal to move a nest. But I’d rather save them rather then my small girls finding them in the pond. I could move the nest around the tree which is litterally 6 inches but 180 degrees to avoid the pond. Would the parents abandon them if I did. The mother is in there on top of the eggs.

    5. Doug, don’t move the nest. Just put some perching places in the pond below & near the nest such as fallen branches. They will land on the branches.

  13. We have lived in our house for 11 years now. There is a birdhouse attached to the house outside our kitchen window. No birds have ever nested in it while we have lived here until this year when chickadees took it up a few weeks ago. We have watched in awe as every day from dawn to dusk the parents fly in & out catching worms, etc & to feed the chicks. Today I saw one leave the nest & begin flying from tree to tree around our back yard. So adorable! I have been out for a few hours this afternoon & all seems quiet in the birdhouse since my return. I hope they all made it!

  14. We had a chickadee nest in our birdhouse on the balcony. It was fun watching the parents fly back and forth to feed the young. They even ate out of our hands. After the fledglings left the nest we only saw them for one more day and they were gone. Really miss them!

  15. I had a chickadee mother build her nest in my porch eves in view of my TV chair and got to watch the whole brooding period up until this afternoon. I am in Western Maine and they were NOT black capped chickadees so perhaps Carolina? There were four eggs and four nestlings grew to maturity.

    For the last two or three days some of the nestling/fledglings would hop along the eve and flutter into the air but then return to the nest. Today one flew to the next eve, looked forlorn and fluttered back to the nest eve and back into the nest. I have seen 3 Robin broods fledge to the porch floor (usually one at a time over two or three days and then hop to the treeline). I was waiting for the same thing from the chickadees but they seemed about two or three days late on fledging. Two were out of the nest several times today but would hop back in and nap.

    Finally, in the time it took to turn on the AC and use the restroom I came back into the livingroom to find all four fledglings gone. The parents were missing for a period of time but other birds were out so I don’t think there was some kind of hawk tragedy (like one that happened to the Robin brood last year). Then I saw one of the parents on the electrical service lines where they would sit and scope out the area in view of their nest during the brooding period so i’m assuming everything is going to plan.

    My question, not having seen chickadees fledge like the robins, is would a parent lead the four out in one group? There wasn’t even enough time for the four to fledge one after the other so I’m thinking they flew off together. I didn’t see anything on the lawn but the distance to the treeline is only about 20 feet. I know with the robins that I won’t see the juveniles (until a month later when I spotted 2 out of the 3 with a parent one the electrical lines over several days, then not since then) but the parents would come and go from the electrical lines. The mother robin is on her third brood right now in the same nest from last year. Anyone out there have any thoughts about this chickadee brood?

    jim d.

    1. Jim D., Robin nests are too small to hold all of the fully grown nestlings so they are crowded out of it and ‘fall’ out of the nest to walk around before they fly. (Seems dangerous to me but it’s what Robbins do.) As you have seen, chickadees use a different technique. Their nests are big enough to hold every one.

      I have never seen chickadees fledge but it is possible the parents led them to safety or to food. When the young are hungry they follow their parents.

  16. that’s what I was hoping to see, as what I find fascinating is how much parenting goes on with these birds. in both cases (robins and chickadees) the parents would come and go with food and pass each other at the nest.

    I know the fledglings will follow their parents because I did see the last of four robin fledglings perched on the nest looking scared and lonely. finally the adult came to led it to the porch floor and then into the yard. with the chickadees i’ll just have to remember it that way.

    jim d.

  17. Watched since end of April till today nest making male feeding female and parents back and forth feeding young Rain wind and some construction and I only saw one fledge kept watch all day and now we ( parents and I can’t find baby.? If neighbor dog scared it accidentally in bush I

  18. Have a family nesting in a decorative bird house on my deck! So cool to see them come and go, hearing the babies in the house chirping when mom or dad comes with food! I live on the border too so don’t know exactly what breed but they are happy inquisitive little beauties!

  19. I have a nest and been watching the babies grow ! A cat tonight got the mom or dad not sure witch one it is! The babies are getting there feathers! There’s one parent now will they be ok !?? I cried so hard !

  20. My hubby and I have been enjoying a family of Chicadees that nested for the first time in a decorative birdhouse that has been on the porch for years! This morning I could barely see a little white mouth through the small hole! We sit on the porch and watch the male and female taking turns feeding them. I hope we see them fledge ?

  21. Hi! I Just saw this thread with the photos – not sure if you’re still monitoring comments… Do you have more photos from the side to see what this PCV thing looks like? I see many options online but am curious about this one.

    1. Caroline, I don’t have other photos. They were taken by a friend seven years ago.

  22. This is my 3rd year having chickadees lay eggs in the birdhouse on my balcony (a birdhouse I thought was “decorative” turned into “functional”). I have a birdfeeder next to them and a water source, I felt so bad seeing how hard the mom & dad birds work to feed all the little babies.

    This year I installed a wireless endoscope into the birdhouse so I could monitor without sticking my camera up to the birdhouse and making the momma mad. I have 7 eggs this year!

  23. Last fall I put up a birdhouse in our apricot tree and this spring a pair of chickadees nested in it. The first clue was the sound of the little hatchlings peeping, and then we heard “chicka-dee-dee-dee” and saw a small bird dart in through the hole. We kept our distance as we watched the parents come and go from the nest.
    Yesterday morning, I noticed what appeared to be a young chickadee ready to fledge at the entrance to the hole. My eyesight isn’t great, and the morning light was low, but my husband confirmed what I thought I’d seen. We were thrilled, but left the area so as not to interfere. This morning, I saw a bird there perched in the opening (again?) (still?) I approached and realized the sweet thing had died. No sign of trauma/predation. I discivered that the poor little bird was somehow stuck to the nest with one of his feet through the hole. The nest was otherwise empty, and I found the remnants of at least two chickadee eggs, along with their lovely nest. I removed everything and buried it in the garden. It was heartbreaking. I can’t imagine what happened. Should we install a short perch outside the hole? This birdhouse has a small front opening (maybe 1-1/4” diam) and a back door that swings away for nest removal and cleaning.

    I’m hoping for better luck next year, with a happier ending. Should we relocate the birdhouse?

    1. Are you sure it wasn’t a house sparrow that went in the box and killed the chickadee? Because house sparrows can fit through a 1 1/4 opening you should put a 1 1/8 hole reducer in the box to protect them.

  24. I noticed black capped chickadee parents had used a nest made of birch tree, near my back door. I heard the nestlings chirping, and saw parents coming and going many times in the past two days. This morning I woke to find downy fluff, feathers and a bloody wing beneath nest box. I also saw what looked like moss and soft nesting material on the ground. I’ve a nightly visiting raccoon draining all of my humming bird feeders. Last night I brought in the glass one because the other glass feeder was shattered the previous night. I did leave one feeder out that was next to the chickadee nest. It was also empty this morning. I did see paw prints near the nest. I believe the raccoon scooped out 3 babies. I’ve checked and there are still two babies in the nest. They didn’t make a peep when I opened the lid to look at them. The parent has been back and acting confused. I’m very worried the raccoon will come back tonight and finish them off. Suggestions? I’m thinking of sleeping on my patio.

    1. Clarissa, I suggest bringing in *all* the feeders at night and, if you’re up for it, sleep on the patio. It sounds like the raccoon ate one of the parents.

  25. I have several decorative bird houses around my fishpond. I am in North Carolina. Yesterday we found a black capped chickadee on the ground. It was very sweet… Will put it back on the birdhouse. The parent came back several times and that bird was gone. Later in the day another one was under the birdhouse We’ve watched two birds that look like it bring it worms and what not. As of this evening it is still on the ground … calling for its parents. The parents are visiting every 10 or 20 minutes… Just wondering how long before it takes off (normally).

  26. I have a pair of Chickadees so I bought them a birdhouse and put it up next to my kitchen window. Sure enough, they looked it over and built a nest in it! I’ve been so happy and excited watching the pair build and bring food to the house. The mom was in the nest–I assumed sitting on her eggs for about 12 days–and then a flurry of activity as mom and dad began bringing food to babies. That was 4 days ago and today there’s no activity at all. I’m worried, sad, and afraid. I know the babies are very tiny yet. I saw chickadees at the feeder but they didn’t come to the nest. I’m telling myself it was a wonderful experience–and it was–but still, I’m heartbroken.

  27. I have a little chickadee pair that have nestlings in a box we made right at our front door. I am worried about the young and when they are going to leave the nest. Do the parents push them out and they fall to the floor or can they fly almost right away? There is nothing for these little babies to grab onto from the box, its on the wall and is a few wing flaps from the nearest hanging basket. I am worried they will fall to the ground and we have a cat…What can I do to prevent this from happening? Should I put a platform under the box so they can stand on that if they get pushed out? I don’t want our cat or the local crow to get any of the babies if they are going to hop around on the ground and can’t fly right away. Its a danger zone. What can i do, any thoughts? They might be out in the next week. Thank you 🙂

    1. Tara, the parents do not push them out. The babies will flutter on their own, probably to the hanging basket on their first flight. Keep your cat indoors while they are learning to fly.

  28. I am worried I made a mistake. A pair of chickadees have laid 4 eggs, which I was very happy about and the eggs must be around 10 days old. (Nestbox attached to house under covered front patio) About 2 years ago a chickadee pair had tried to nest and a House wren around this same time in June of that year had thrown the eggs and nesting material out on the ground and destroyed the chances of a successful fledge. Fast forward to this year, I decided to make a wren guard, after seeing the reappearance of a wren in the area (hearing the familiar song) which the chickadee parents appeared to accept on June 15. Today (June 16) I did not see them going in and am worried they abandoned the nest, which I checked and confirmed they were not in tonight. Afraid I made a mistake putting up the wren guard causing abandonment, so I took down the wren guard tonight. Hope the chickadees come back tomorrow and will take chances with wren. Any thoughts?

    1. Update (6/18) Have not seen the chickadees, but the 4 eggs are now gone. Based on the size of the nest hole on the birdhouse (used reducer 1.25), only suspect is the wren. Though I did not see any evidence of poked eggs or eggs on the ground. I took a picture of inside of nest and see one twig in nest that I do not think the chickadees would have brought in. My last experience with a wren was different and eggs were thrown on the ground. Is it possible the wren carried away the eggs leaving no trace or could the chickadee parents possibly have come back and gotten rid of the eggs?

    2. Nick, it sounds like something ate the eggs — completely consumed. Wrens don’t do that. It was probably a predator, perhaps a snake or raccoon.

  29. The chickadee fledglings have left the birdhouse but two chickadees keep returning, seeming confused as they land on top or on the side of the birdhouse. Parents or fledglings?

  30. I have a chickadee nest in my rolled up awning for about a month now. All babies have hatched and are flying around but parents and babies keep coming back to the nest. I want to get rid of the nest as we got a new puppy and she’s trying to eat the bird poop! ( the spot under the nest, on my patio, is a mess of bird poop!). Plus I want to use my awning! Can I just go up and remove the nest? They all seem big enough to move on.

    1. Check carefully for a new set of eggs. Chickadees may reuse a nest site if it worked well for them.

    2. Tracey, I looked up the life histories of black-capped and Carolina chickadees. I was wrong. Second broods are rare. So your chickadees are probably done for the season. However, if they like the site they may reuse it next year so you might want to prepare for that (such as keeping the awning open/unrolled March-June next year).

  31. Thank you so much for the information! They are still flying in and out of the nest area though. The adults and the younger ones. Can I still get rid of the nest and they will just find another home?

    1. Tracey, wait until the end of July and see what happens. If there’s a day that they aren’t there at all, unroll the awning .. carefully.

  32. We have Carolina Cickadees nesting in our small bird house. I have been observing the feeding process fro about a week but today, April 28,2020, I noticed the parents did not seem to be feeding the babies as frequently. I still hear the babies in the nest. Is the some reason the parents would slow down or stop feeding them?

    1. If one of the parents died you’ll be seeing only one come to the box (though they look alike). More likely: They are both alive and well but they see humans or cats or some other threat near the nest box and are staying back until the threat leaves.

  33. We just noticed that some chickadees have nested in our birdhouse and we’re so excited but it’s just a few steps from our backdoor and we have kids coming and going all summer. Do you think the birds will become aggressive or dive bomb the kids as they’re going be? We def. didn’t think the placement of the birdhouse through very well lol!

    1. Amanda, the chickadees have probably noticed the foot traffic already and decided to put up with it and lay low. I can’t say if they’ll dive bomb but if they do they’re too small to hurt anyone.

  34. Thank you Kate! I was hoping that would be the answer. They’ve been in and out of it for days now and seem to be fine but I was worried it might change when they’re babies in there. We’ll follow their lead

  35. I had chickadees build a nest under ground cover in flower bed and they were feeding so l looked and there was 4 or 5 babies but were very young and they hadn’t been feeding but a four or five days and they were just covered with fuzz and later that day I went to show my daughter and the nest was there but empty with no sign of them and I was in and out on the patio all day. I cannot figure what happened to them and I don’t think they were even close to being able to fledge the nest. They build a nest on my patio every year but usually up in my hanging baskets not in the flower bed. It just bothers me they are just gone so fast no sign. Any ideas.

    1. Tammy, my guess is that the chickadees built the nest elsewhere but it fell to the ground. (They nest in holes, not in the open.) It sounds like a predator got them.

  36. Hi,
    I am in upstate NY and I have a chickadee pair that are feeding 4 babies in a nest that is in a old fence post. The babies are about 14 inches down into the post. They are really crowded in there (last night mother didn’t even sleep with them). I know all 4 are alive but one is basically under the others because space is so tight. They are fully feathered and I would say a couple weeks old. SO-can the babies make their way straight up and out a narrow hole or should I intervene by carefully creating a hole closer to where the babies are. Thoughts?

    1. Amy, don’t make another hole! The drilling will terrify the babies and they may get injured as they try to escape the commotion. Also, the parents will hate it & never use that nest again so you won’t have the joy of watching them. Cavity nesting baby birds know how to get out of holes. They crawl up the inside (the wood has footholds) and jump out. Here’s a video showing baby chickadees in a nest in a PVC tube. Yes, they are always crowded at the end
      it’s normal.

  37. I saw what I believe to be a house wren taking nesting material out of a birdhouse in my yard that had chickadees in it. I don’t know if the chickadees were done with the house. They’ve been in and out of it for a few weeks now. Would a wren just kick a chickadee family out and move in?

    1. Diane, house wrens can be pugnacious/destructive toward other species including chickadees. According to Cornell Lab’s Birds of the World: “Direct or strong circumstantial evidence exists for pecking, or removing from nests, the eggs and offspring of other cavity- and open-nesting species nesting on or near the wren’s territory. May also kill adults of other cavity-nesting species within nest sites. Consistent with reports of destructive behavior, many species vigorously chase house wrens away.”

  38. Chickadees love my 4x4x8 birdhouse, but raccoons’ night raids have killed about half of the nestlings, and about half of the females keeping the nestlings warm at night. (Evidence for adult females was flight feathers scattered below the box).

    The pole holding the nest box is 4 feet of polished stainless steel, which surface was no impediment to a hungry raccoon. The latest successful (full) fledging was because every evening, I’d spray the pole with WD-40!

    All the latest fledglings left within one hour, although I’ve seen longer “departures”.

    Keep the opening no larger than 1 inch and an eighth, or sparrows will displace the Chickadees. Line the hole with metal, or Red Squirrels will chew their way in. A 3-inch “hardware cloth” entrance tube will keep the nestlings beyond the reach of raccoons. Don’t encourage or keep wren nest sites nearby. (Nearby Robins killed-off a Phoebe nest).

    Boreal Chickadees’ range barely extends into the US from Canada.

  39. We had a family of chickadees outside our window in a little bird house (built by the kids years ago). About a month ago mom and dad discovered it and started building the nest. About 4-5 days ago little hatchling mouths could be seen in the opening and mom and dad busily came and went all day feeding them. Now suddenly the little bird house is empty?! Might a predator come and killed the babies? And mom and dad now abandoned the box? Will they return? I’m so sad…. the little chirping was the sweetest. And seeing mom and dad feed the hatchlings was so amazing.

    1. Baby chickadees fledge (fly) at 12-16 days old. If they weren’t that old then something ate them.

  40. i was wondering how long Chicadees nest ,my husband and I see them all he time have done since April May and still with fur in their mouths and all day looking like they are nesting ,not sure what is happening ,in and out all day ,they are in a nesting box on my balcony. Can they still be nesting?

    1. Linda, Carolina chickadees nest in March, April, May and a little in June. Black-capped chickadees nest in April, May June and into July. They will be all done next month

  41. I have a chickadee who has been tapping on all my windows now for about four weeks. He or she has also gone after my barbecue, my bird feeder glass, and anything around my house with reflective and seems to be battling with its self. Some days with more bigger than others, possibly simply because it’s just tuckered out. There are a lot of windows on this house. Seems to be searching for something. I have many trees around me that it could nest in And lots of other chickadees that come and go. But this one seems to have decided that my house is up for a battle. He’s a noisy little bugger and I’ve also let him back out of my garage one day when he accidentally got on the wrong side of one of those windows.
    The feeders are full, it eats, and then it roosts at night on the railing of my deck. Odd bird. Ideas?

  42. Thanks for all your information,. We really appreciate it and admire your love for the birds. This is our first birdhouse ever. I mounted it 8’ off the ground, facing northeast. I also put in a hole reducer that shrunk the entry way to exactly 1 and 1/8” of an inch. I put 3/4 of a cup of fresh wood shavings in the box,. I also put a small amount of black oil sunflower seeds. A pair of black capped chickadees are moving in!! They’ve been working very hard the past 3 days,. One goes out, the other goes in. Today I noticed it’s mostly the male going in and out of the house. He sits on a branch watching the entrance while the female sticks her head out from time to time. I even saw her go out for a few trips today,. The male immediately the male goes in the house and stands watch until she returns.
    Here’s my question:
    What else should I be doing? I wanted to hang 2 very small Tupperware bowls about 2-3 feet away from the entrance, one with water, the other with sunflower seeds. I then read that I’d be doing more harm than good. The food and water could attract other birds and predators. Do you agree with that? Is there anything else I could/should be doing. We just love and adore these little creatures. I appreciate anything you can advise me on. I thank you so much. I’ll try to send you a video of them today.
    David DeRosa

    Sent from my iPhone

    1. Don’t place food and water near the nest because, as you’ve mentioned, it will attract predators. These include larger birds, mammals and snakes. The mammals come at night. The best way to help is to put a predator guard on the pole that holds the nest to keep snakes and raccoons away.

    2. I would recommend a wren guard installed after you see the first egg laid. I had a wren puncture 9 Chickadee eggs and throw them out of the nest. He then proceeded to pull the nest out of the box. The same pair of Chickadees is now nesting in another house on my property. Their 5 babies are going to fledge in the next 2 or 3 days. I have been closely watching a house sparrow who has been hanging around their house. I installed a sparrow spooker which seems to be working. Next is going to be a hole reducer to keep the sparrows out. It’s been a tough road for the poor Chickadees.

  43. We built a nesting box and put it outside our patio door and we have been careful not to disturb the chickadees once they discovered it and built their nest. They had several babies and most of them fledge the nest two days ago, but I can hear there is one left in the nest. This baby cries all the time and I haven’t seen a parent enter the nesting box to feed in the past 4 hrs. I see them on a branch outside the nesting box with food in their mouth but they don’t go in to feed the little guy. Should I be concerned?

  44. Yesterday a little chickadee was sitting in the middle of the yard today the nest is empty and there gone.

  45. I have a nest of three babies on my deck and it appears that one of them has fallen out of the nest should i just leave the bird?

  46. How fast do they usually leave the nest? We have a little bird house for the chickadees and for a couple weeks we had the parents super busy bringing insects and stuff from dawn till dusk but then seemingly overnight they stopped coming to the house and there’s no chirping either. Took a quick peek and no birdies inside the nest unless they’re dead and buried under the fluffy nest stuff. Did they just all leave when we weren’t looking?

    1. It’s a bird house with a very small opening and high up, I have never seen the squirrels even get near there… But I’ll make sure to check out those tips. Crows too shouldn’t be able to get there…

  47. I love small birds except sparrows! My husband made a nest box and put on our deck last April, surprisingly both house wrens and chickadees tried to build the nest there. After a few fight between them, finally house wrens thrown out chickadees’ nest with their two tiny eggs (sad!), rebuilt the nest, raised 6 little wrens and flew out. This year chickadees came earlier, successfully occupied the box and had 5 eggs two weeks ago. But sadly there were still three eggs unhatched now. This is an unusual chill spring here in Northern Virginia, I’m wondering is it because of coldness or we scared them by checking the nest occasionally that they didn’t make 6 eggs and they failed to hatch all the eggs?

    1. Story continued: When the two baby chickadees were ready to fly out, we noticed that a wren came to check on the box. We were not sure if it’s after the two babies came out or the wren scared them away, the unhatched eggs were pushed out by the wren. We figured that it’s wren’s turn. We cleaned out the nest that chickadees left, wren (I guess the same as last year’s) started to build the nest, now it’s found 5 eggs to be hatched. Life goes on…

  48. I have chickadees nest in my box every year with a 1 1/8 hole reducer on the box and house wrens kill the babies every time so I don’t allow them to nest in my boxes now I’m trying a wren guard.

  49. I have a bird house at one side of my home, it is above the ground in a safe corner. Two weeks ago I saw one chickadee building a nest, coming and going making loud nocking noises like a contractor…. then days later looks like she was on nesting and coming out of the house just for eat, and returning to the house, after 3 days I noticed no activity so I wait few hours in the morning and in the afternoon, but nothing. Next day I look and there is 6 tiny eggs inside… but no mom. I don’t know what happen or what to do….

    1. It is likely the adult died. I do not suggest trying to save/raise the eggs. Chickadees are the ones who know best how to incubate, feed & raise their young.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *