The female Chaffinch usually lays 4 or 5 eggs and incubates them for 11 – 13 days. The nestlings have a covering of long grey down, the mouth is cerise pink and the gape white. The young are ready to leave the nest in 12 – 15 days.
I can’t see into the Chaffinch nest from my vantage of the bathroom window, so I am not sure when the chicks hatched, but I have been able to hear them for a few days. Taking a peek out of the window today I watched as the female brought in food and caught sight of little heads with straggly down, tiny wings with feathers being stretched and big white gapes bobbing up that just reach the rim of the nest, so they must already be about a week or so old.
I appreciate that you can’t see much of what’s going on in the photograph, but the bath is located immediately below this window, so the only way to get a view at all is to get into the bath, crouch down in it and crane your neck upwards, trying to aim through the bars of the window grille.
Both parents are diligently feeding their chicks and I managed to get some good views of them with food, although they could see me and I felt guilty making them wait. The female was scolding impatiently and raised her head feathers, expressing her disapproval and I’m sure maternal panic. I was fascinated she could make sounds with a beak full of caterpillars, but moved away quickly before she got too distressed.
I waited a day before spying on the birds again. They were both still working hard to fulfil the needs of their little family, which I think is quite a small one. I have made out two little heads, but as I said, my view of them is very restricted.
I had a wonderful view of the male bird who was perched very close to the window, beak crammed full of what I think may be flies, together with pieces of green leaf. He was waiting for the female to deliver her cargo before moving in with his.
The nestlings have grown rapidly and although I can still only see two, they just about fill the nest. They still have a few straggles of wispy grey feathers clinging to their heads, but apart from that their plumage appears to be completely grown. They are very sweet and seem oblivious to being watched, although they probably wouldn’t know what to make of me anyway.
May 22nd – The nest is empty!