Our Great Tit Family – Part 3

Watercolour painting of a Great Tit by Paul Hopkinson

Are you following the lives of the Great Tit family in the bird box on our gate post?  Here is the next instalment in their little lives.  Without a doubt the Great Tit chicks are getting bigger. Indeed it is amazing the changes that have happened in just a week.  Both parents have continued to feed on a regular basis, a range of tasty treats. But I have to say that even to me, someone who likes his food, some look less tasty than others!
Such a range of food being brought in for breakfast, dinner, tea, supper or even a snack in between.  No matter what, there is always the same reaction from the 4 little chicks……

It is amazing just how far they can stretch those bendy little necks in their bid for the food. In the first few days their heads were a bit too heavy for their necks. But now their muscles are definitely strengthening up.  Of course survival of the fittest is happening right in front of our eyes.  No doubt the longer the reach means you are also more likely to get the food.  However, we do wonder about the little chick that hatched 36 hours behind the first. Surely he or she is bound to be slightly smaller and will forever be playing catch up. We have our fingers crossed.

Why do the parents do this?

Sometimes when feeding we notice the parent bird trying the food in different beaks before putting it into one.  We did wonder if with a juicy snack whether they are squeezing a bit of juice into each beak?  Alternatively maybe they are seeing which chick hangs on to the food with the most strength and this is the one that gets it?  Do you know?  Leave me a comment if you do.
Anyway, I am sure that you are wanting to see what fine dining experience was next on offer…… 

You will of course have noticed that what goes in has to come out!  Great Tit nestlings are one species that produce faecal sacs.  This is a mucus membrane that surrounds the faeces. It allows the parent bird to easily remove the waste material from the nest.  Nestlings will usually produce the sac within seconds of being fed.  Or sometimes the parent will encourage production by doing a bit of ‘prodding’!!

Great Tit chicks indicate that they are about to produce a sac by raising their bottoms in the air.  However other species we monitor deposit the sac on the edge of the nest for removal.  This can of course lead to a bit of an unpleasant build up as the season goes on.
On that note, I’ll sign off for this week.  We have a long weekend here in the UK with Bank Holiday.  Therefore plenty of time for getting outside and enjoying the wildlife.  I’ll of course be back on here next week to update you on our little family and no doubt the Great Tit chicks will be getting bigger still. 😉 Paul

Find out more

Should you also be interested in finding out more about this species the RSPB have a very informative page.  And if you have missed the previous parts to this story here are the links to them:
Find Part One – here
Find Part Two – here 

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5 Responses

  1. Learned something about birds and how they rid the nest of waste…did not know that…interesting…

    1. Hi Susan, I can imagine different birds are quite varied in how much waste they remove. The Great Tits are very interesting in the fact they keep a very clean nest. 🙂

  2. Always that wonderful reaction of those little chicks… must be sooo exciting you both following the process each day! Thx for sharing!

    1. You are very welcome Erna, it is great fun to watch – we never quite know what snacks are on the menu!! This morning a small winged insect was brought in….ummmm, tasty!

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