The unseasonable warm weather in February seems to have stirred the hearts of some local black-capped chickadees. I spotted a pair flying around my backyard seeking a new home to raise a family.
By late winter, flocks of black-capped chickadees will often break up and mating pairs will seek a place to nest. Although we still have several more weeks of winter to go, the need to breed seems strong in this pair. They are ready to go.
Both female and male chickadees will seek a hole in a tree, usually an old Downy woodpecker hole, selected by a female. Sometimes even a birdhouse will do if it looks like a tree cavity. It has to be five to twenty feet above the ground.
Once the perfect hole is picked, the female will make a cup-shaped nest using moss and animal fur. Both male and female will defend the nesting territory from other determined chickadees.
Soon, the nest will be filled with 6 to 8 white eggs with fine reddish brown dots. Incubation takes 12 to 13 days. The male will bring food during incubation, typically insects, seeds and berries. The pair is on their way to being parents.
Spring is in the air around New York Harbor. The celebration of new life is near.