Blue tit nest box diary

The diary and images below are from a previous year
( or view the images from the great tit diary)

(These images were captured using a low resolution black & white camera. I now have a high resolution camera from HANDYKAM.COM. Read my review here)

At long last, after 5 weeks of inspection, and on the first day of spring, the blue tits decided to start building in the nest box with the camera installed. The birds have building materials in their beaks in the pictures below. Nesting materials are easy to come by as the blue tits are using the moss and dead grass from my recently scarified lawn. The materials are close to hand (close to beak?)

I found it strange at first that one of the birds seemed to be attempting low level flying inside the nest box! It then transpired that the bird was beating its wings furiously (pictures 1 and 2 below) to compact the first layer of nesting material. In the final two pictures one of the birds obviously spotted a reflection of itself in the camera lens and started to attack it. Fortunately I'd secured a clear sheet of plastic below the lens and the electronics.

Picture 1 below shows clearly where the nest is going to be, close to the back wall and away from potential predators. The blue tit does lots of circular shuffling (picture 2) to form the nest into a circular shape. By 8th April (picture 4) the nest is well formed and is being lined with feathers. I'm amazed to find just how little time each day the birds actually spend building. Most of their day is spent well away from the building site, just like human builders. If you're a builder and you're reading this, it's just a joke, honestly!

On the evening of 11th April a blue tit spent all night roosting in the nest box, the first night the box has been occupied. The camera has night time infra red vision which did not seem to disturb her (?) at all and she eventually settled down happily for the night, head tucked under wing (picture 3 below). This must have been a 'dummy run' as there are no eggs yet (picture 4) but there has been some more material gathering since, mainly feathers.

Action at last!

Blue tits produce a single brood of chicks each year. If that brood fails, there is no second chance. There may be from 7 - 13 eggs, although clutches in gardens may be smaller. Eggs take from 10 to 15 days to hatch. Although 'mum' spends every night in our nest box she still leaves the eggs during the day.

Friday 24th April

Covered with feathers and left

Saturday 25th April

Sunday 26th April

The first egg!

Tuesday 30th April

Wednesday 1st May

Thursday 2nd May

Friday 3rd May

Click the individual images below for a much larger view
or go to the pictures of the new born chicks

Saturday 4th May

Images captured Tuesday morning 7th May - Still eleven eggs

Eleven eggs! Fluff Fluff and Phoenix Breakfast is served

Wednesday 8th May 11.40 p.m.

On Sunday 5th May a visiting cat left our garden in haste with some poor creature dangling from its mouth. For the next two days the female bird was not visited by the male. He had been feeding her whilst she incubated the eggs, so we feared the worst. The RSPB booklet 'Cats and garden birds' quotes statistics from 'The Mammal Society' that estimates 55 million birds a year are killed by cats.

The RSPB's response to my e-mail was "I think it is likely to be the original male as other males would probably have tried to tempt the female to a new nest site. If it was a new male, then it may attempt to build a nest over the existing eggs."

The RSPB's advice at this time of the year, especially when the chicks have all hatched is is provide some food to help the parents. "Foods such as sunflower seeds or hearts, summer bird food mix, insectivorous mix, mealworms, mild grated cheese etc. should all be fine to help a developing family. Avoid peanuts, fatty foods and bread."

Monday 13th May - 10.00 p.m.

No more images, but the male is spending more time feeding 'mum' whilst she stays with the eggs. If all goes well, I'm hoping that there'll be some chicks by the weekend. Hard to imagine maybe, but watching the birds on our television screen for the last three months makes us particularly concerned for their welfare.

Thursday 16th May - 10.00 p.m..

Four chicks hatched today - Latest images


Building a blue tit box

Cutting plans and the completed box

Nest Box Cam - page 1

Installing the camera

Nest Box Cam - page 3

First chicks!

Nest Box Cam - page 4

The chicks - now 4 days old

Nest Box Cam - page 5

Nest cleaning and toileting procedures!

Nest box Cam - page 6

The final chapter

| Sparrow terrace - build a bird box for up to 3 pairs of house sparrows |
| Sparrow terrace - the cutting plan |