Saturday 9 April 2016

BirdBox2016: the odd couple

From previous years, it is generally the first 10 days of April when nesting tits complete their nests and the first eggs appear [at least in our garden].

A pair of blue tits took over our Maple Tree bird box early in March, and have been visiting regularly right through the last 4 or 5 weeks.

However, their behaviour has not been typical from our experience of observing via box cameras since the start of the 2009 season.

The male has been doing a brilliant job of keeping guard whenever the female is inside the box. He has not only been chasing away blue tits and great tits that get too close to the maple tree box, but also (unfortunately) doing the same for any tit that gets too close to the Pergola bird box.

Why the great tits put up with this little runt I just don't know! They don't let this blue tit chase them off the feeders.

However, it is the female's behaviour that is more strange. Normally the female blue tit (& female great tit and robin) pretty much complete the nest before spending their first night inside. I guess I'd thought that the act of mating was the trigger for the female to do this, as they generally lay their first egg on either the first or second night that they spend in the nest.

But this blue tit female has spent the last two or three nights in the nest, while the nest itself is nowhere near completion.

the box entrance is on the left, so she sleeps on the floor on the right

She just sits and sleeps on the hard wooden floor. If she does lay an egg, there is no easy way to hide or disguise it.

Although she goes in and out of the nest dozens of times each day, she does not take in much nesting material. Most of what you can see in the photo above is green moss and the fine bark of shrubs like actinidia and vitis. She is just as likely to remove material as she is bring in more, but she does the wing flapping thing which moves it around and forces it out to the sides of the box.

So it will be very interesting to see what happens over the next few days.

And of course we are still hoping that an aggressive pair of great tits will arrive soon and take control of the Pergola bird box.


  1. My nest boxes have (again) been unsuccessful this year, however on a positive note, my rabbits have contributed a nice fur lining to next door's Great Tit nest...

  2. Well its not over yet. Judging by the trees in our garden, it looks like Spring is running a little late this year. And the local great tits do not appear to have paired-up yet (I can hear one calling "teacher-teacher" as I write this).

    Although I was 95% sure our female bluetit had spent a night or two in the box, she certainly didn't last night or the night before.
    So currently we have a badly built nest which she has just started stuffing full of dog hair!