Mariton: Chickadee Nest Building

April 28, 2021

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Photo by Tim Burris

This week while monitoring nest boxes I had three different Chickadee nests that illustrate the different stages of nest building.  The photo above shows the moss layer.  Moss is the foundation of a Chickadee’s nest (and also a Tufted Titmouse’s nest).  It makes up the majority of the nest.  You can see that this layer is basically flat on top.

Photo by Tim Burris

The second stage, pictured above, is when the parents make a cup in the moss and line it with hair and other fine material.

Photo by Tim Burris

There weren’t any eggs in this nest, but it is ready for the female Chickadee to start laying.

The pair will continue to gather hair until they fill the cup and have a substantial layer of hair to cap everything.  At this point the female can begin laying eggs.  She will lay eggs over several days and place them down in the hair compartment.  The hair will insulate the eggs and keep them viable until she begins sitting, which is when incubation will actually start.  When she is ready to begin incubation, she will uncover the cup of the nest, packing the hair around the edge.  It was pretty neat to find the three stages on one day in different nest boxes.