Blue Tit Arrivals

Wildlife Kate

This time of year is always special as it is a time when I have lots of new arrivals in my patch. I have one nest box that is just about guaranteed an occupancy and this is a box mounted on an oak tree in my garden.

For the last 6 years, I have had Blue Tits nesting in this box mostly, with the occasional Great Tit family. Their hatch always corresponds with the emergence of the oak leaves and this means that the oak tree is full of moth caterpillars; perfect for hungry chicks.

This nest box is live streaming on the website and is delivering incredibly clear images. Inside the nest box is a Hikvision Minidome IP camera and then a small set of internal lights. These lights are attached to a small sensor which turns the lights on during daylight hours and off at night. These lights mean that the image inside the box is particularly clear and bright. As you can see, the birds are not concerned by these lights.

The Blue Tits laid their first egg at the beginning of April and then an egg was laid every day. We often couldn’t see these eggs as the female would cover them with the soft material she had collected to line this beautiful nest.

The female proceeded to lay 11 eggs. I am not sure at what point the female ‘decides’ that she has laid enough, but she starts incubating on the penultimate egg usually. This ensure that all the eggs hatch at the same time.

The female takes full incubation duties and will sit for about 14-15 days. In this time, the male comes in to feed her and she will pop out occasionally. This blue tit had created the most exquisite nest and, every day, I reveled in how she could have created this perfect space in which to raise her family.

I always make a note of when incubation starts, so I am ready for hatch day and this year, that day was on April 26th and 27th. The first signs are that the female becomes very unsettled and constantly looks underneath her. This camera has provided a wonderful view, and it was not long before I saw the tiniest pink form.

I also captured a lovely clip where the female actually removed the egg from one hatchling, helping it into the world. The female will then eat the egg shell. This shell contains essential calcium. It will also ensure that the nest space remains as clean as possible.

From the minute the chicks hatch, the male starts bringing in food. It fascinates me that they start with the tiniest caterpillars. They very rarely bring in food, in those first few days, that is too big. As the chicks grow, more and more food is delivered and the female starts to leave the chicks to collect food as well.

You will often see the female upended in the nest cup. Good hygiene is essential in the nest. All the droppings are removed from the nest cup. Quite often the female will eat these, but as the chicks get older, she will take them outside. The female regularly cleans out under the nest cup, removing the droppings and any debris.

These chicks grow at an incredible pace and, when I return home from work each day, I can see a change in them. I am capturing an image from the camera every day and these will be combined, at the end of the period, to show the daily changes.

This camera is live streaming, so you can pop in and keep an eye on the occupants at any time viewable on the Live Webcam page of the website. Clips are regularly saved and uploaded onto the CJ Youtube channel too.