For me and this Blog the story started 1 year ago with a Great Tit Nest, the full story of which can still be relived here. It’s come round again and we are nearly back at the start with all the excitment of the Nesting season. I think it’s good to be optimistic and so far all the indications for this year are looking good. Confidence is high.
Since last year I’ve installed a new Nest Box as the old one was letting in water and also I’ve upgraded technically so that the images are now in colour and with sound.
I’ve had lots of preparatory visits during January and February by Great Tits and the box seems to be satisfactory.
These visits have increased in frequency as we’ve approached Spring. I made a little graph which nicely illustrates this, showing the number of visits I’ve recorded inside the box each week.
Looking back at the nesting record, of which last year is the only year for which I have a full set, I see that the nest building started on 19th March, so the activity may start in the next 10 days or so.
Last year was the earliest I’ve recorded nesting activity and we did have a particularly mild spring, so it’s very possible that this year may start later.
In another technical advance, I will be live streaming all the action this year, certainly during the day. You can find the live stream link here on the site or directly on youtube. You can subscribe to the youtube channel and this will give you an alert when the stream is live.
I’m currently streaming during the day a mosaic of a few cameras from the garden, typically the Great Tit Nest Box, Robin Nest Box, and the Mouse House. Assuming that a Nest starts I will however focus on the Great Tit Nest Box. Last year I also provided a daily log update on the nest, I’ll make sure to share all the news again this year, with regular short blog updates on any nests.
Unfortunately I’ve not had any interest to date in my Robin Nest Box. Robin’s are pretty fussy and I think I’m going to be lucky to get a nest in the box and therefore on camera.
I will keep going with it throughout the year though, just in case. Robins typically have more than one brood and will use different nest locations in their territory. So it may be used later in the year.
This behaviour is unlike Great Tits, which will typically only raise one brood. They may try for a second later nest but it is quite rare. Only in the case where the first nest is an early failure, perhaps it is predated, will they normally go for a second nest. So for Great Tits it’s now or never.
My final Nest Box will be a Swift Box which is not yet installed. After an unsuccessful season last year I took it down over the Winter for a bit of a clean up. I’ve also painted the inside Black as I’ve read that Swifts favour a very dark environment for their nests.
I’ll reinstall the box during March or early April, before the swifts return towards the end of April.
I have been asked if I make any particular preparations in the garden to assist nesting birds. I have a few things that I do and would recommend.
Firstly keep the feeders topped up. The food is no good for chicks, who need insects, but it is a really valuable and easily accessible food source for the adults. This is their most trying time of the year, lots of work to do, so having food available is a real help and keeps them in condition. Also keep the feeders clean. They can accumulate bacteria which is harmful for the birds, so once in a while give them a wash in warm soapy water.
Another thing that I do is to stuff a couple of the garden fat-ball bird feeders with nesting material.
I use moss, leaves and even hair scavenged from one of the thousands of hairbrushes in my house. This provides the birds with easy access to material that they might need for nest building. I’ve seen a few birds take from it, mainly Blue tits, so it does provide some help.
I know many of you will also have nest boxes, some with cameras and you have high hopes for the season. It is very exciting if you get a birds’ nest. Just remember to be patient and to let nature takes its’ course. Be ready that the chicks might die, it is a natural thing and of course predators need to eat too.
Also stay away from the nests when they’re in use. Don’t disturb the birds during this critical period. If you spook a nesting bird it may simply not come back and the nest will fail.
So good luck. We’ve had Winter and now it’s time for Spring. I wish you all a good Bird Nesting Season and I promise to share mine with you all.