When I got home from work today, my neighbors were all staring inside a rotted-out hole in a tree trunk next to our house, something that I thought was a little strange. Alas, it turns out that a few days ago, they noticed a group of black-capped chickadee hatchlings living in the hollowed-out tree, and today, the new chicks started to try to venture out a bit. By the time I got home, only three of the original five were still in the nest; the other two found their way out, and had started to explore the area a little bit. Of course, neither of them had mastered the whole how-to-fly business, so we kept having to follow their (louder than expected) chirp to find them and get them back over to the nest area. They had their full plumage already, and were as tame as can be, allowing us to just walk right up and help them find their way home. One of the two was getting a little better handle on using his wings than his sibling, though, and within about half an hour had figured out how to flit back and forth from the ground to the nest.

I went out for a beer with some friends, and when I came back, the three inside the nest were still chirping away. It was easy to find one of the two out-of-the-nest chicks hanging out on the edge of our stoop by following the sounds of his chirp, but I never found the fifth one — maybe he was the one who was rapidly mastering flying, and had ascended into the trees overhanging our house. In any event, I wished them all luck getting through the night (there are a few street cats around here), and came inside to settle in. (If they’re still there tomorrow, I’ll try to snap a few pix!)