A Stroll Down the TCT

On Thursday I had a rare opportunity to get out for a little bit of birding in between classes… well, I should have really been working on homework but sometimes you get that itch and you just need to bird to get it scratched. With a limited amount of time I decided to check out a stretch of the Trans Canada Trail that runs parallel to University Dr. on Burnaby Mountain.

My first notable sighting was of a Chestnut-backed Chickadee digging into a snag. The bird would peck at the excavation sight for a few seconds before flying to a nearby branch with a small chip of wood or two in its beak. The chickadee would then drop the wood chips, fly back to the snag, and repeat the process. I watched the bird continue unabated for ten minutes or so before I had to continue on.

Interestingly, male Chestnut-backed Chickadees select the nest sight but it is the female who actually prepares or constructs the nest (1). It usually takes seven to eight days to build the nest; that’s just over a week of practically non-stop hard labour (2)! After finishing the nest the female will take a day off before commencing with egg laying (2).

Further down the trail from that tough-as-nails female Chestnut-backed Chickadee I came across a mixed flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets, Black-capped Chickadees, and a lone Ruby-crowned Kinglet. In the distance a Winter Wren broke out into song and soon after a Common Raven cawed before flying above the trees where I was standing.

After my brief escape to reality I went back inside refreshed and ready for class.

References:

  1. Fowler, Jr., K. M. 1998. Breeding biology of the Chestnut-backed Chickadee. Typed manuscript of a paper presented at the North American Ornithological Conference. 11 April 1998, St. Louis, MO.
  2. Dahlsten, Donald L., Leonard A. Brennan, D. Archibald Mccallum and Sandra L. Gaunt. 2002. Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/bna/species/689doi:10.2173/bna.689
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