Our Great Tit Family – Part 5

Those of you who are following the ups and downs of the little Great Tit family from our gate post bird box will hopefully be looking forward to today’s final instalment! Our little chicks are no longer quite so little, and actually the last few days Mum has not roosted/brooded in the box with them during the night. As we have not had a camera inside a successful tit nest before, we don’t know if this is normal behaviour or not. Do leave us a comment if you’ve seen this happen too.
Whilst Mum might not be brooding the chicks as much, both parents remain as diligent as ever with their feeding regime. However, the following footage was quite unbelievable. We were in hysterics watching it fold – not sure the caterpillar was quite so happy with the situation though….

We are pretty certain that it was dad who brought the caterpillar in. The male of the species has a wider black chest stripe and we have noticed that his head is less sleek than the female’s. However, it is the mother that ends up with the caterpillar and dad gives up, goes out and leaves her to it!
The following feed was a bit more straightforward.

We have so enjoyed watching the progress of our Great Tits this year, we had 16 days of watching whilst the eggs were laid and then brooded, followed by 21 days from hatching to fully grown fledglings.
Should you have missed their story so far, here are the links to Part 1Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.
Modern technology definitely gives you an insight into the natural world that was never really possible before and we would wholeheartedly recommend getting a nest box camera if you are able. Our cameras give us hours and hours of pleasure and have taught us a huge amount along the way. But, all good things must come to an end, and 3 weeks after hatching the inevitable happened.

Thank you so much to everyone who has joined us in watching this story unfold, it has been a real pleasure to share it with you all and thank you for all your comments. Maybe next week we will get back to a painting related blog instead!!
Until then, it’s Goodbye from me and it’s Goodbye from our little Great Tits too. Kind regards to you all, Paul. 🤓

Our Great Tit Family – Part 2

I am hoping that you enjoyed the first part of our Great Tit family’s saga, should you have missed it, check the previous blog post out here. Thought I would give you a little update on their progress so far. The female was a really good Mum and continued to brood her eggs almost constantly whilst the male kept her well fed with tasty caterpillars and such like. Then on the evening of day 12…….

…..great excitement for us as we spotted a tiny pink, naked chick! Mum and Dad remained as attentive as usual and carefully started to feed the chick. Given that the eggs are just 18mm (0.7″) long – you can imagine how tiny the chick is! Sometimes the food brought in was just too big – which meant Mum and Dad had to polish it off themselves, but it is amazing how big a meal the little ones can take!
We remained alert to the cameras, and over the period of 36 hours a further 3 chicks hatched out.

This was interesting behaviour, we were aware that parents will take the hatched egg shells away from their nest, this keeps the nest clean and hygienic and dropping the shell a distance from the nest confuses predators too. We were not really aware that the shells were eaten, although it makes perfect sense for the female to eat the shell to replenish her diminished calcium supplies. Female birds do indeed look for snail shells prior to laying in order to increase their calcium levels. There is an interesting article on this behaviour here.

Let’s see what next week brings for our little family, I’ll definitely edit up some more chick footage for you all – we can never get enough of cute little chicks!
Have a lovely weekend, let’s hope the weather stays dry and we can all get out and enjoy the wildlife wherever we live.
Have fun! Paul

Our Great Tit family

A couple of years ago I made a lot of bird boxes for our local woods and a few neighbours showed interest in purchasing some of them. So to advertise the boxes I placed one on our gate post…..one year later…… well you can obviously guess what happened next!

Clearly the pair of great tits had stumbled upon an old tennis ball as this seems to have formed part of the nest lining. 🎾 We were a bit caught out by the nest and as these birds can be very sensitive to disturbance we didn’t try and install a camera to watch their progress. We do know they successfully raised 3 chicks which was really great. But, wind forward one year and this time we have been able to install a camera. However, this story is not without it’s own saga…..

As you know, Jo and myself are nest recorders for the BTO, so we had checked the above box on the weekend and it was completely empty. On Thursday we were returning from a local birding walk when we noticed someone delivering leaflets to our neighbours. We thought nothing of it, we went out for lunch (special treat) and it wasn’t until we got home that we realised that we had not had a leaflet………now does the above box look like a letterbox to you?!! Clearly someone thought it was, it had been opened and a leaflet placed inside. 😟 We were horrified to see a part built nest underneath the leaflet and thinking it may be the great tits again we were really worried that they may have been put off the box altogether. As we were going away for a few days, I decided to screw the lid shut and put a sign on the box “This is a bird box NOT a letterbox!” – you can still see it there!

On our return home a few days later we were mighty relieved to find a fully finished and lined nest and as the pair were away from home themselves I took the opportunity of popping a camera inside so we could follow their progress and hopefully share it online too. Unlike our tennis ball lined nest from a year ago, this one is completely furnished out in white sheep wool – masses and masses of it. No idea where this has all come from as the sheep in our back field are a Zwartbles and a dark chocolate brown colour! It does look incredibly cosy though. 😆

Anyway, the blog has rambled on long enough for today, so like all good story tellers, I’ll of course carry on this one next week……do watch this space. 😉
In the meantime, do leave me a comment, I would love to hear whether you have birds nesting near your home.
Until next time keep enjoying the birds and wildlife around you and I’ll catch up with you all very soon. Paul