The chickadee pictured to the right placed a small piece of lichen inside the nestbox to claim it as his own.

Listen to a Chickadee:

Time Stamp      Bird Call
0:01:54             Chickadee
0:04:18             Red-winged Blackbird
0:14:36             Common Raven

The Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli) shown in the photograph to the right laids her eggs in the spring. She is a year-round resident of western Montana, so she is naturally one of the first species to lay her eggs each season. Mountain Chickadees pair-up early and are monogamous through the breeding season. The male will lead the female to a few different nestsites that he had picked out in his territory and the female will choose the site she likes the best. Once the site is chosen, she will begin building the nest, using lichen, moss and grass, and lay her first clutch of eggs in approximately one week.

After a chickadee has laid her eggs, she will incubate for approximately 14 days but may need as many as 23 days before the eggs hatch. The male Mountain Chickadee does not help with the incubation process. Once the eggs start hatching, it will take approximately 6 days for the young to be able to open their eyes. Once hatched, both parents will feed the young equally with whole food pieces, not regurgitated food. The nestlings will stay in the nest for 18-21 days. At that point, they will leave the nest with their parents and continue to stay with them for 2-3 weeks. Toward the end of this dependency period, the parents begin to ignore the begging calls from the young and force them to start finding their own food. Once independent, the young disperse to their own territories.