How to I keep my black cap chickadee around?

TheShepherdessMarch 18, 2013

Hi guys! I live right at the foothills of a gorgeous Utah mountain, so wildlife is never far. However, I am concerned about upcoming landscaping plans disrupting a little friend I have made.
Ever since we moved into our place a year ago, a sweet little two-pitch bird song has woken me up in the mornings and kept me company during the day. I just love this little song!

I recently went hunting around on the internet and found out that it is sung by the black cap chickadee. I have definitely seen these little guys hanging around! They are adorable and sweet, and I want them to stay.

However, we are planning a massive overhaul of landscaping this year. It is not just "for fun." We bought this house last year, on a short sale, and the previous owners had moved out and left the house basically abandoned. The yard and landscaping were allowed to get completely overgrown. Things weren't weeded, trimmed, fertilized. A few trees died, a few other things are basically beyond repair, and the whole place is essentially a jungle that needs some desperate maintenance. We started last year, and plan to finish the project this year. This is going to require removing some dead and unhealthy trees, bushes, and shrubs. Many are also horribly placed. It looks like the original owners went to the nursery and bought a bunch of tiny shrubs and planted them all on top of each other without realizing that most of the plants they chose would grow several feet high and tall! I have juniper bushes and boxwoods growing THROUGH each other because they were planted 8" apart!! Obviously, there is a lot that will have to go. I am really worried about disrupting my chickadees, though!

Does anyone have ideas about how I can create a comfortable place for them as we fix some of our landscaping? Does anyone have a picture of what their nests look like, so I can avoid removing any vegetation housing one of them? Any suggestions for what to replant that will keep the yard hospitable for them? How about food?

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

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shillanorth Z4 AB

Sounds like you have a gargantuan project on your hands!!
Evergreens are good for cover and roosting sites at night. They will appreciate a feeder with Black Oil Sunflower Seed(BOSS), will even bring their young there to feed them once they have fledged. Basically, any well landscaped yard with trees, shrubs and open spaces as well as some water and a feeder or two will appeal to birds. Happy planting!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 5:00PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Ironically, the weeds, overgrowth, and tangle of vegetation are very attractive to most birds. It provides them with cover and nesting sites, and there are usually berries, seeds, and insects in the vegetation as well. They don't care that the plants are too close together, or whether a bed is edged perfectly or sprayed for weeds.

I had a very overgrown yard when I moved here 10 years ago, with many invasive plants. The only thing I continually remove are invasive plants, and in stages because I've done most of the work myself by hand. Sometimes I wish it had gone faster, and been "overhauled" as you are doing, but I tried to preserve habitat. I left some thickets of vegetation, and left "snags" or dead trees up in the back yard purposely to provide nesting habitat for cavity nesters (and Black-capped chickadees are cavity nesters). I had Bluebirds nesting in snags here for 2 years, until the snags fell over. I also leave up some dead branches for perching and insect value.

I would suggest that you go over to All about birds, and read about the BCCD. Also observe the little chickadee's habits in your yard, where they like to "hang out", and perhaps leave some habitat intact throughout the overhaul.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 8:31PM
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