Some of you might be wondering how Project New Chickadee came out.
I last saw my personal chickadee Studley Windowson on August 3, 2021. I remember the date because I made note of it the last three times he popped over to my hand for a mealworm (August 1, 2, and 3). Because I had a feeling. Couldn’t tell you now what I was picking up on; I did know he and Marge had been working on some new birds that spring and something went wrong, and maybe Studley was depressed. Also, he looked pretty shabby but that’s normal for August.
He was a hell of a bird.
I just read something about the difference between crows and chickadees. The writer was encouraging people to toss peanuts to local crows because you could get a personal relationship. She said chickadees might land on your hand, but “they’ll land on anyone; the crows know who you are, and the chickadees don’t.”
Anyway, we miss Studley terribly. And meanwhile, we have new chickadees. I was hoping a couple of them would check out our battered old birdhouse and I could entice them with my mealworms and keep this whole love train on the tracks. The nest box is right outside my window and I can slide my hand out there with a mealworm on it and when they get really desperate, they might take a chance on me. That set the hook the last time.
Sure enough, we got a nesting pair of new recruits in the rental. Everything was going great but then when it was the right time for eggs to hatch—it’s never off by more than a day or so—there was nothing. By mid-June I knew we didn’t have hatchlings and the mealworm express was not going to leave the station.
But there was at least one chickadee hanging out in our hibiscus that keeps an eye on me instead of flying away. He can’t quite bring himself to take a worm from my palm but he clearly knows what I have and, I think, who I am. I stand by the shrub with my hand out and say “I was friends with your Dad,” and he chikkits in a conversational tone. He says Hi when I walk by. The last of Studley’s fledglings, in 2020, hung out with him in that same shrub, and when Studs noticed the kid was trying to edge in on his worm franchise, he’d spank him. My stash, he said, Go find your own human.
Well, I think this is the same bird.
Last week I finally opened the nest box to see what was what. And sure enough, there was a completed nest, with fourteen speckled eggs inside. Abandoned. That’s two years in a row.
I happened to be by the window this spring wondering if I had birds or not when I saw a chickadee arrow into the nest box hole with a scrub jay right on his heinie. And the jay briefly hovered at the box, as best it could. That sucks, I thought. There’s no possibility a bird will successfully fledge if an assassin could pluck it right out of its box. I think New Chickadees had the same idea. Studley and Marge, too. It’s just too risky. We used to have a cascara tree there with lots of branches and leaves, but it came down on New Year’s Eve 2019 (THWUMP, it said). I worried that the June sun might cook the eggs but I hadn’t really thought about how exposed the box was to characters of ill intent. My new cascara isn’t big enough to be helpful yet.
I took the nest box down. I’m not putting it back until we get more leafage.
But I’ll be hanging out by the feeder with my palm out this winter when the pickin’s are slim. I have mealworms, I have a chickadee, and I have faith.
Happy birthday, Dave!
Aw, that’s so sad that you had to take down the nest box. I can see why you had to, though. Is there someplace else you could put it? Do you have other nest boxes around, or places that chickadees may build a nest? That way, you could sit around the area with your hand full of mealworms: “Hey, kid! Wanna nice, juicy mealworm? All you have to do is sit on my hand for a bit.” (No, that’s not creepy at all! 😉) I hope you find another personal chickadee. I loved hearing about Studley and Marge.
And happy birthday, Dave!
No, that’s not creepy at all!
My Oregon friend has a whole flock of Stellars jays who daily gather in a noisy blue scrum to beg for peanuts. She tosses peanuts into the air and enjoys the aerobatics. Some of them have learned that if she’s holding TWO peanuts, they will glug one down the gullet holding area, then wait for the second one before flying off to stash both in the same place. Clever birds. They seem to like people.
Maybe…. Maybe not. As Corvids, they are opportunistic feeders. And they recognize individual people. AND they tell each other stuff. So, they may have been telling each other about her, they recognize her, and expect tidbits whenever she is outside. They are similar to the dolphins that will do acrobatics for fish: “Damn, dude! This is demeaning! However, we don’t have to get our own fish, and we don’t have to worry about sharks. It’s a job.”
We’ve got lots of Steller’s jays around here but not RIGHT here. Seriously. They are four blocks to the north and six blocks to the south, and we’ve seen one in our yard one time only. It’s a matter of conifer density. We don’t have quite enough of the big tall trees in this block and they’re particular.
Makes me remember my own little chickadees when I lived in Upstate NY. Soon as I would come out of the house one in particular was all over me. Followed me through the woods. ( sunflower seeds will do that ) Had to tell the local hunter “don’t hurt him , he will land on your shoulder” and he did. Had to try to disconnect when I got a new dog that lunged at them. Still showed up two years later though a bit shyer…miss that.
Aww! I think I would have had to get rid of the dog. Yeah, chickadees are supposed to be famous for landing on people, but it took some effort to get Studley on board and I haven’t had any luck with the others…YET.
Wishing Dave a very Happy Birthday!!
Dave says thanks!
I’m hoping so hard my heart hurts, I really want this to be Studley’s son and have him come to you for worms.
I’m feeling bad because I had to stop feeding the sulphur crested cockatoos, I began by feeding just one that couldn’t fly, she would climb down the tree for seeds, then climb back up again. Before I knew it I was feeding a greedy flock of 17 and that just got too expensive. I told them several times I was going to stop and the last day was Tuesday. I ran out of seeds and didn’t buy more. They’re confused, but I know they will move on and find food like they did before. The original one who couldn’t fly hasn’t been around for weeks now, I think she died.
You have to figure. Like, I knew Studley was gone when I didn’t see him for three weeks. So strange that Ghost Studley showed up–the chickadee with the white back–the next month, and then a few months later it was gone. And then we had a chickadee with a bum foot tucked up in his netherfeathers–but that one is gone too.
Happy birthday to Dave!
Happy Birthday Dave!
Sorry I missed the day, Dave, but Happy Belated Birthday just the same. We almost never get the posts until after bedtime but that’s no excuse….
I am confident that this is Studley’s kid. Keep Calm and Carry Mealworms.
Well now that everybody and his plumber has stories of chickadees making nuisances of themselves by landing on them, I feel a little cheated I have to WORK at this.
We started putting out those cakes made of suet and seeds up at our cabin while we were there off and on all summer. The chickadees loved them. Next thing you know one of the chickadees started just hanging out on the deck railing by us, and even landed on my husband’s head (he was wearing a baseball cap). I thought of your chickadee at the time, remembering he would take food from your hand. Maybe this summer we’ll try to continue the taming process!