For the last few weeks I've been watching the neighbors next door to see who they were. I'd just catch occasional, fleeting glimpses of them through the window or hear them calling to each other when I'd be out in the yard, but never well enough to identify them or find out what they were doing here.
The big breakthrough came the other day when I noticed what appeared to be a new building site not far from the house - a few feet up in a newly splintered tree that must have blown down in one of our winter wind storms. Sure enough, they were obsessed with it. I could see them flitting around, coming and going. But try as I might, I just couldn't get close enough to really see what was going on. The moment I'd get near, they'd vanish. Then later I would see they would be back, flitting and fluttering around thier particular tree.
But having found their location allowed me to strategize a plan. Lots of brush nearby; I had an old gray blanket in the car. Armed with my trusty Nikon equipped with a 70-300 zoom, the blanket over my head, I attempted this morning to get a few shots.
Turns out the camouflage was a great success. They didn't seem bothered at all. And I was able to photograph, identify, and watch with amusement as they continued to build their home one beak-full at a time.
I'm no experienced birder, and the species ended up being a Poecile atricapilla, or common black capped chickadee. They are frequently found almost everywhere throughout North America. But they're a neat bird - clear, trilling calls, with legs and feet strong enough to allow them to forage while hanging upside down.
It was a rewarding experience as it was another lesson in the wonderful ways of the world around me.
Plus it's always pleasant to find out that the new neighbors moving in are fellow woodworkers.