Wildlife in Watercolour

The Devon Artist

Our Great Tit Family – Part 2

Garden bird watercolour painting by Paul Hopkinson

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. We have of course spent this week watching our garden nest box. So I 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. Meanwhile, 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 18 mm (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. However, it is remarkable 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.

You learn something new every day

This was interesting behaviour to watch. We were aware that parents take the empty eggshells away from their nest. Indeed, this keeps the nest clean and hygienic. In addition, dropping the shell a distance from the nest confuses predators. We were not really aware that the shells were eaten. However, 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.

We’ll continue watching our garden nest box and 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

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