The patio attached to our condo has at least five bird houses. A few fancy ones, one I made with the help of my grandchildren, and an A frame bird house that’s been around the longest. And despite the availability of all the other fine dwellings, there’s a pitched battle for the A frame house every year, after which the other four bird houses usually remain empty. If I was a landlord depending on rent, I’d go under.
There are at least five birdhouses in our patio
The Good The Bad
The cavity nesting birds (notice pro-birding speak here) that compete for the A frame year after year are the English Sparrow, the Wren, and the Black Capped Chickadee. The English sparrow, an unattractive invasive species, is the largest of the three. It’s also the most prolific, the most boisterous, and a real bully. The sparrows were brought over from Europe in the 19th century, probably as hitchhikers aboard ships.
Wrens are the smallest of the three, but feisty as all get out. They are native to both the old and new world, so I can’t dislike them entirely. They have long beaks and are known for going into existing nest boxes and wreaking havoc. They seem to wait until a birdhouse is occupied, then attempt to evict the current occupants.
Chickadees are my favorite of the three competing birds. A native species, with nice coloring…and tough! They have successfully claimed the A-frame for the past several years, only losing out once to a pair of wrens.
All three birds apparently have quite the voice, chirping and singing throughout the day. Course, being deaf as a rock, they could be singing opera for all I know.
This year I determined to pay close attention, and followed the patio bird activity from early spring up until the time the hatchlings left the nest.
Let’s get ready to rumble!!
In early spring, several pairs of aggressive sparrows skirmished over the A frame with a pair of chickadees. At the end of each day for about two weeks, I wouldn’t know who was left, as the birdhouse changed hands almost every day. The larger sparrows would take possession, but the tough chickadees would attack them relentlessly, and the birdhouse seemed up for grabs…until finally, the chickadees prevailed, establishing permanent residency, followed by a clutch of eggs.
But their problems weren’t over yet. About three days after the eggs were laid, a late coming wren invaded the birdhouse and a battle royal ensued. I watched for about fifteen minutes after which it appeared the wren had destroyed the eggs and evicted the chickadees.
But I was wrong, for the next morning the chickadees were back in business, with the female sitting on the still good eggs while the male went in and out providing food for the female. I was happy they had prevailed.
The hummers can take care of themselves!
The chickadees drove all other critters, large and small, away from the birdhouse as well. Our hummingbird feeder is only about three feet from the A frame, and the chickadees would drive the poor little hummers away. But the hummers were clever, watching the A-frame and sneaking in for a drink while the birds were occupied, either on the nest or gathering food.
The squirrels thought they were tough, but proved no match for the chickadees!
A pair of squirrels approached the birdhouse one day, reaching in for a hopeful snack. Like lightning, both chickadees attacked them time after time, driving them well away from the nest. I wish I had taken a video of that! Those squirrels never bothered the nest again!
With all the interlopers defeated or at bay, the chickadees tended the eggs until they finally hatched, after which they took turns bringing food to the nestlings. They most often brought little green cut worms with various insects in between. The industrious birds fed the hatchlings non-stop from early morning till dark, for almost three weeks before the cute little buggers emerged from the nest.
The first little chickadee stood at the birdhouse opening for hours before it finally got the courage to come out. The two parents perched nearby and chirped encouragement. After the first one finally left, 7 or 8 more followed over the course of the next twenty four hours.
The birdhouse is now empty, and the patio quiet, with all the fighting, food gathering etc. having ceased. The hummers still come and go, visiting the feeder and all the patio flowers, so I am still entertained by their activities throughout the day.
But I look forward to next spring, when hopefully black capped chickadees take up residence again, providing entertainment for all who watch. 😊