It is just after 10am as I begin to write this and at the moment there is a very sad picture in our Camera Nestbox. The last two remaining chicks are lying in the bottom of the nest cup on their sides. They are just breathing – I can see them move up and down with just the faintest of moments. They also have some company and unfortunately it is not the parents – there are two flies crawling over them. Perhaps the third last chick was not removed when it died later yesterday and has drawn the flies in.
The Camera in our Nestbox has given us a rare insight into any bird that builds a nest and attempts to raise chicks – there is so much more work involved than we ever imagined. I am in no doubt, as a gardener for many years, that the changes in temperatures this year with the hot dry April (very unusual for my part of Scotland) and the very cool wet May have had a knock on effect on the flowering of my plants and in turn the availability of food for our Blue Tits.
Nestbox Update: The Blue Tit female has just entered the nest and dealt with the flies – what a surprise to see her. I had no idea whether she would return at all now. I am very glad the flies are gone now as one chick is still slowly breathing. She looked into the nest cup at the chicks and briefly looked for other bugs beside them. I recorded her visit which lasted almost three minutes. As I wondered if she would return again – I have just heard her at the entrance calling to the male. I have to say in had been fascinating to see the communication that goes on between them. She has just briefly returned again and looked over and had a peck at the chicks. She then turned and looked to the entrance hole in a way that she has done before when she has looked for the male to join her to show him something. How amazing nature is.
I have considered that although this breeding season is over for our Blue Tits, they only have one brood each year, that on a more positive note other birds may have an extra brood. It will be very interesting to see the results of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2008 as I have heard many stories of other failed Blue Tit broods and unused Nestboxes. I have also heard that this spring fewer Blue Tits have been seen in gardens.
Nestbox Update: The Blue Tit female has just returned again and chased of another fly and I never saw that one! As she jumped about the nest she seems to have disturbed the chicks and I can now see that they are both moving a little. She has left and I can see another fly walking on top of the nest! I can also see the dead, third last, chick which will be attracting them. I know it is just a matter of time now. She returned again and removed another fly – I saw it in her mouth. I wonder how many more visits she will make and if the male will join her at any point. As I was about to publish this the male came in with a beautiful bright green caterpillar – he left with it calling to the female. I now wonder if they will visit together and if they will eventually remove the last chicks. I will look in again on the box this evening.
Selecting pieces of video has been quite tricky sometimes but I have many more clips that I haven’t shown. I will look through them all and perhaps over the weekend show some more of this wonderful insight into nature and a Nesting Blue Tit pair.