Now’s the Time to Put Up Birdhouses for Black Capped Chickadees

The guy at the Wild Birds Unlimited store says that, despite the cold, black capped chickadees in the Chicago area are nesting right now. If I were a chickadee I’d think about a postponement, but the folks at WBU generally know their birds.

Chickadee
Black Capped Chickadee

Chickadees are such endearing birds, how can you not want to provide them with a home? Admittedly, their plumage is not the most colorful. However,  they have great personalities: cheeky, energetic, and friendly. They don’t fly off when a person approaches them, and sometimes will even eat out of your hand.

Plus they have a very distinctive call that is sometimes lyrical and at other times sounds like someone saying “Dee-Dee-Dee” through a PA system. Click on the link below to see what I mean.

Black capped chickadees live year-long  in a wide swath from Newfoundland down to Viriginia, then west to Alaska as far south as Oregon.

I’ve got a birdhouse for chickadees, but it doesn’t have a very happy history. Two years ago it was hung from the branch of a Japanese yew and was almost immediately occupied by a nesting pair. It then fell to the ground and was abandoned. Last year I hung it again but there were no takers, and over the winter it again fell to the ground.

My chickadee house, now on a pole. Oh, and I did fix the roof.
My chickadee house, now on a pole. Oh, and I did fix the roof.

Today there was a half price pole for mounting birdhouses on sale at WBU. I bought the pole and set it up with the birdhouse when I got home, which wasn’t easy because the ground was frozen (I had to pour a pot of hot water to soften it up).

Please note that if you do set up a birdhouse for chickadees, you need to buy a metal plate to keep predatory birds from enlarging the hole in order to get at the nest.

Do you have any birdhouses in your garden?

40 Comments on “Now’s the Time to Put Up Birdhouses for Black Capped Chickadees

  1. I’ve had wrens nest in the past and bought 2 new houses for them this year. Haven’t put them out yet. Just ordered another one for chickadees and will put it out this week. Does seem terribly early, but they are on a timeline usually dictated more by the sun than temperature Thanks for the heads-up!

  2. They are very interesting to watch! We have a birdhouse in front of our kitchen window , too, and while breakfast we love to watch them. Your house looks good!

  3. What a dear little bird,and a lovely video. I hope they will take up residence in the now safe and secure house.
    I have a box for tits which gets used most years. This year the great tit is busy pecking at the entrance, she can’t quite make up her mind about it.

  4. I have bird feeders but not nesting boxes because our proximity to the river means lots of snakes. We’ve had a few successful pairs, mostly wrens, who have nested in climbing vines near the front of the house, but also some sad outcomes. Thankfully, I’ve only seen black rat snakes, black racers, and the much smaller brown snakes and worm snakes in my garden. I’ve heard the black snakes keep the copperheads away, so I want as many of those as I can get!

    Our Carolina chickadees are very similar to your black capped cuties.

  5. House wrens take all the small boxes I have in my garden. I don’t mind because I love watching them scurry around catching moths and bugs for their young. We have Carolina Chickadees here in my part of the country. They are delightful little birds.

  6. We have a variety of nesting boxes throughout our garden and woodland area. Last year we had bluebirds and Carolina chickadees nesting. The chickadees make their nest out of moss. As Marian mentioned, we also have issues with snakes getting into the boxes so it is always exciting when the birds successfully nest. If they nest early enough in the season the birds will fledge before it is warm enough for the snakes to be out.

  7. I’m pleased to say that for once I’ve these birds as well in my garden and yes, we have nest boxes too. We even built one for an owl and guess what – a chickadee moved in…I guess the size appealed to them 😉

  8. They are cheerful little birds. I have nesting boxes for blue birds. I do get some blue birds to nest, but the boxes are mostly used by swallows.

  9. I enjoyed reading this post. Glad you added the video of the sounds. I found that part about how they change their sound when alarmed really interesting. We don’t have any birdhouses on our property, but we should! We do have a bat box, but they bat population has decreased around our area of Ontario. Keep up the good work!

  10. I have 13 birdhouses, including the 4 new ones I bought this winter off Etsy. We have a lot of chickadees and they’ve already started house hunting in the garden. Our most popular house is a cylindrical blue bird house that several types of birds always try to claim. But the blues nest in it every year. Hopefully, your new pole works well. I have all my houses on poles or thick shepherd’s crooks. Tree branches are too unpredictable.

    • Wow, that is a lot of birdhouses! How big is your garden? I was under the impression you couldn’t put the birdhouses too close together because of territorial issues.

  11. This is fascinating. I mistakenly thought we had Black Capped Chickadees but your article sent me off researching a bit and they are unlikely here. We have Carolina chickadees.

  12. We have 5 houses for the starlings. They come and nest every year. We also have smaller birdhouses, and they are usually all occupied.

  13. What a lovely little bird, it sounds as friendly as our robins….I have lots of birhouses, but the birds prefer the trees and ivy.xxx

  14. We have lots of chickadees around but I have never put up a house for them nor have they taken any other houses. I have 4 bluebird houses that are protected by bluebirds and sometimes taken by house sparrows or swallows. I also have a wren house.

  15. Good advice on the house. They are just the cutest little birds. Today I was at a park where I rarely go in Buffalo, and the chickadees came to my empty hand and sat there for about a minute. I am so amazed at how tame they become to people they have never seen before.

  16. Yes, we do have a house that the chickadees frequently inhabit. They’re my favorite little birds. I think their colors are gracefully beautiful. We have a couple of other houses, too. So fun to watch the birds making their nests this time of year!

    • I know there have been nests close by my garden,but I’ve only ever found one cardinal nest. Hoping some chickadees move into their house soon.

  17. I have birdhouses but probably no great places to put them. I have hung a couple wren houses and they have gone unused as far as I can tell. I’ve never seen or heard a wren in my neighborhood, maybe that’s why! I leave them up in case anybody small needs shelter. I do have a Robin who claims my yard, but don’t know where he nests. I have to learn to be a bit more nosy this year…

      • I think if any of my surrounding neighbors had trees in their yards it would provide more cover/habitat but trying to do it all alone on a postage-stamp-sized lot is probably ridiculous. The houses look like they ought to “fit” chickadees but maybe they don’t like them or I just haven’t found the right place. As long as the chickadees keep coming for food I know they’re hanging out somewhere…

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