Great tits with young in a nest box

November 29, 2011

in Birds, Gardening For Wildlife

All my articles, videos and work are funded by my teaching and sales of award winning bumblebee nest boxessolitary bee boxes,  and wormeries.

The great tit, (Parus major ) the most studied bird in the world! Although its preferred habitat is deciduous woodland it is very familiar in our gardens as a frequent visitor to feeders and also frequently using nest boxes. With a summer population of around 2 million pairs here in the UK (2000) and its widespread distribution, it is very rewarding to attract a pair to use a nest box you have put up for them.

Great tit nest box – all looks quiet at a first glance!

Many birds will use a nest box with a hole, including blue tits, sparrows, wrens, treecreepers and a host of about 60 other species! In fact the size of the entrance hole can determine the species of bird that will use it. For example a great tit needs a 28mm diameter hole and the blue tit uses a 25mm hole entrance. This nest box has been used by both great and blue tits in the past.

Great tit checking out nest box

Females usually check out the nest boxes and if in situ over the winter, may use it to roost in during the cold nights. This one was used over the winter by a great tit.  This may or may not be the same female. Sometimes they spend several minutes outside and then fly away. Eventually she will venture inside, no doubt to check the decor! If it is to her liking she will attract the attention of the male with his bolder and wider black stripe running down his breast as a badge of status, usually on guard nearby, with his familiar ‘teacher teacher’ call to assure her he is watching over her and remind other males he is there and this is his territory. The calling will decline as the nest season progresses.

Great tit female checking out internal decor before deciding to move in!

Once inside and after consultation with the partner, the pair then take several days to construct the nest itself. I helped out here putting out feathers from a pillar, small piles of dried moss from the garden, hamster bedding material, horse hair and sheep’s wool gathered from barbed wire alongside farmers fields. This would save the birds a lot of time and energy searching for warm, insulating nesting material. Then I let nature take its course……after which the female has to find a source of calcium and gorge herself before laying her eggs………..for more info….. http://bit.ly/szORPY

After sitting on her eggs for a couple of weeks……the result of her hard work?

Young, blind and featherless great tits- bet they are glad of the nesting material I put out to keep them warm!

The young helpless great tits have an almost insatiable appetite. All of the nine eggs in this nest hatched, now for the parents the real fun begins! Eat, sleep and grow! That is the life of these chicks for the next 3 weeks or so. This will be the parents’ only brood so they are determined to keep their young alive. It is their way of ensuring their DNA is passed on to the next generation.

Great tits- naked, blind and helpless- We want more food!

The parents will feed their young on a variety of invertebrates such as aphids, spiders, small beetles, caterpillars, bugs and other juicy insects, all full of protein to aid the growing birds to develop a sound bone structure. Not being as agile as other smaller tits, the great tit will regularly use the ground to search in its quest to find food and has even been seen climbing up and down tree trunks, similar to the nuthatch, so putting out live meal worms, which are really beneficial, in a saucer on the ground where the adults will readily take them with profound thanks!

Great tits growing larger inside the nest box

The diet is obviously working, which by now will include some small seeds, these great tits are growing with the plentiful food the adults are bringing to them. In fact one BTO researcher , Dr. Andy Gosler, who studied great tits for many years, calculated that the effort feeding chicks was equivalent to us humans bringing home over 100 kgs of shopping EVERYDAY for 3 WEEKS!!!

Great tits growing- soon ready to fledge from this crowded nest box

After their high protein diet of insects, the adults slowly introduce seeds to their young. For example, I often watch the adults taking sunflower hearts from my feeder and taking them straight away to the brood. Its high energy, oils and minerals makes it almost a complete for for birds at this time of their soon to be perilous lives!

Great tit- what are you looking at? !

Once all the chicks have fledged, the parents will still feed the young and travel some distance to find food, which will now include food put out by us in feeders and on tables etc. At this time unless food is available many may die. If lucky the parents will be around to show the youngsters how to hold food items and how to deal with large caterpillars, which are capable of clamping their jaws on the inside of the throat of young birds as they are swallowed by them, if they are not killed first. The adults kill the caterpillars by pecking their heads, in the process destroying the troublesome jaws, whilst holding onto the prey with one foot, the other foot grasping the twig or branch upon which they are sitting. They will also show them how to peck at larger seeds to break them into smaller more manageable pieces. After a couple of weeks the young will leave their parents and are independent of them.

Blue tit shouting to neighbouring great tit family ” Hey keep the noise down will you. I have a family trying to sleep in here!”

Just 10 feet away opposite the occupied great tit nest box a pair of blue tits successfully raised a family themselves.

Stuck for a Christmas present? Wanting to give your loved ones something different? Want  more information about garden birds, feeding and nests go to :    http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/gbw

A quick snippet of information…..

Did you know that the bill of a Great Tit is longer in the summer than in the winter? Research by Andy Gosler and others has shown that winter bills are deeper and shorter, useful when tackling beech mast, whilst summer bills are narrower and longer, which makes it easier to grab insects. Their bills wear down during the course of the winter and grow in the spring. The amount that the bill shape changes also seems to depend on the percentage of beech mast present in the winter diet, which is linked to availability.

Not only does bill shape change between seasons, there are also differences between the sexes, with males having chunkier bills, especially during the winter. In winter feeding flocks, males and females will often feed in different ways, on different food items. The difference in bill shape may not be as obvious to us as it is for a Curlew, where a male may have a bill as short as 83mm and a female as long as 167mm, but it’s enough to make a difference when it’s time to look for lunch.

 

Stuck for a Christmas present? Wanting to give your loved ones something different? Want  more information about garden birds, feeding and nests go to :

http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/gbw

Refs….Besides my own experiences and observations….

Chris du Feu, (1993), ” Nestboxes. BTO Guide 23″, British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford

Perrins, C (1979), “British tits”, Collins New Naturalist Series, London

Toms, M & Stery, P (2008) ” BTO- Garden Birds and wildlife”, AA Publishing, Basingstoke, Hants

Web info used….

http://blx1.bto.org/birdfacts/results/bob14640.htm

http://www.bto.org/news-events/e-newsletter/e-newsletter-library/story-archive/did-you-know

{ 97 comments… read them below or add one }

Darcy Gibbs March 1, 2014 at 8:29 pm

I have a bird box at home which I am preparing for a group of great tits but I do not know what bedding I need to provide them with. Could you please let me know ASAP! Thank You!

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nurturingnature March 1, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Hi Darcy, Dog hair, sheeps wool, wool, cotton wool, dried moss will all help. Put them in a cheap plastic peanut feeder they will soon find it and use it! Cheers HTH, George

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Dinny April 12, 2016 at 12:28 pm

I have bird boxes complete with cameras. Come nesting season, I leave out an array of materials for the mating pairs to choose from (preserves their precious energy reserves as they can harvest bedding close to the boxes). Cotton wool is highly absorbent and is probably not a good choice as it will not dry out in the box if it becomes wet through normal body functions and/or if there is any external penetrating water. I tend to put out moss, hay, dog’s hair, sheep’s wool and very small twigs.

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nurturingnature April 14, 2016 at 10:30 pm

Yes Dinny, I have used sheets wool several times. Dog hair and moss has been used. Love the activity! Thanks for sharing ! Cheers, George

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Clio May 21, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Right now, I have a little family of blue tits nesting in the nest box I put up last year. Every evening (and weekend) I watch the parents busily flying in and out of the nest. What puzzles me is that the parents seem to fly off at night and not return to the nest box. I suppose the little family will fledge soon. I take particular care around this time of year to keep my 4 feeders fully stocked with Sunflower seeds in one, mixed birdseed, nyger seed and peanuts in the others, so I am glad to read that the parent birds change from the high-protein insect diet, to include more seeds just before the babies fledge.

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nurturingnature May 21, 2014 at 8:38 pm

They do Clio and once they start to feed their young on seeds you are right in saying that they are almost ready to fledge. This year I had some fat with seeds in a coconut shell. Blue tits, great tits, starlings all came and soon polished it off. I saw the great tits take it to the nest box. I have made a video of the young birds to go on my web site when I get a little spare time. Cheers George

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Dinny April 12, 2016 at 12:33 pm

Hi Clio,
I feed birds all year round. I too try to vary the diet and put out food sources appealing to a wide range of species. When the young are in the nests, I either stop putting peanuts out in the feeders or crush the peanuts very finely to avoid choking the fledglings.
I hope this helps.

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nurturingnature April 14, 2016 at 10:32 pm

A decent stainless steel peanut feeder from a repeatable supplier is safe for young birds as only tit bits cha be taken. You are 100% right about whole peanuts. Cheers, George

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Frances Rayner April 30, 2015 at 2:24 pm

I have 2 nest boxes with cameras and a over 1 and half years ago a Great Tit started roosting in one of them every night. Last Spring I thought that it would find a mate and nest in it, but it didn’t. It has been continually roosting but no nesting again this year. Is this normal? Thanks Frances

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nurturingnature April 30, 2015 at 3:59 pm

Hi Frances, I have come across this myself many many times. I had a nest box last year used by a blue tit to roost. They did not nest in it. Great tis have done the same, roosted overwinter and not nested. I think this may be a precaution against a build up of pests and they move to another nest and collect fresh material. HTH, cheers, George

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davd May 17, 2015 at 6:57 am

All 5 great tit chicks died suddenly over night , they were about 7 to 9 days from fledging. I have a camera in the box and all looked well…any ideas

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nurturingnature May 17, 2015 at 10:19 pm

Are the parents alive? It may well be that the female was not sitting on them and they died of cold… Aw. G

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Jenny Crespo May 26, 2015 at 1:27 pm

I live in Spain an had a great tit nesting in a large earthenware pot in the garden, there were about 8 eggs and they hatched about 3 or 4 days ago. Today there is nothing in the urn at all, can I assume they have died or been killed by a predator, we do have snakes around but I doubt they could get into the urn. Very upsetting

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nurturingnature May 28, 2015 at 8:56 am

Hi Jenny, I think you have hit the nail on the head. Probably a predator has found them and taken them as food for itself or its own young.In the wild, bird nests are much harder to find for predators, but in gardens they are much easier and therefore there is more chance they will be found by a predator.Birds quite often select nest sites that are very easy to find in gardens…. thanks for sharing, George

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julie May 27, 2015 at 4:06 pm

we had great tits nesting all went quite,when we looked we found 3 eggs and 3 with feathers all dead don’t understand what could have happened any idieas

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nurturingnature May 28, 2015 at 9:04 am

Hi Julie, several things spring to mind. The weather has been dreadful around here, very chilly winds and heavy rain. Cold and damp is not helpful to newly emerged chicks and they can die.This can have a detrimental effect on young birds. Heavy rain can knock caterpillars from leaves to the ground. Great tits depend upon this huge food resource in trees, if they have been knocked to the ground, they will die and great tits will have to search longer to find some on leaves in trees. This could cause young to starve. If one adult has been killed then again one parent adult can struggle to find enough food to feed its young.
Cheers, George

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Judith June 1, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Hello George, just found your website. Great tits used one of my boxes, laying 10 eggs. 9 hatched, but the chicks seem to have fledged amazingly quickly. Similarly some robins. They laid 5 eggs but less than 10 days after I checked it, the nest is empty. I’ve not noticed the parents coming in with food, though they are discreet. Do you know if robins have more than one nest in a season? I saw an adult feeding a juvenile before these eggs had hatched, and given how territorial they are, it seemed unlikely to be an intruder. Thank you.

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nurturingnature June 4, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Hi Judith, Robins may have more than one brood, perhaps two if conditions are right. HTH, Thanks for sharing, George

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Bob June 4, 2015 at 11:32 am

Hi. Am I right in thinking that once the blue tits have fledged, they leave the nest for good and do not return and likewise the adult birds will also stop using the nest box?

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nurturingnature June 4, 2015 at 3:41 pm

Bob, in short yes..pests inside, predator knowledge, etc. Cheers, George

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mk_graham June 8, 2015 at 7:29 pm

Hi. We’ve had a breeding pair of great tits in our nesting box, who laid 11 eggs, all hatched. Approx 2 weeks later there were only 7, and we only saw 5 fledglings emerge this week. What happened to the other 6 do you think as there’s no sign of bodies or bones?
Thanks
Graham

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nurturingnature June 9, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Hi Graham, Really interesting question! You say you had 11 eggs, all hatched?? Then 7, then 5?? As the birds have fledged it would be worth opening the bird box and teasing apart the nest material to see what, if anything can be found. That may give you an idea. Then remove everything from inside the nest box and simply pour boiling water into it to kill off any nasties.Then replace it. Let me know if you find anything! Thanks, George

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Hilary June 11, 2015 at 6:00 am

I’m feeling very sad. We had blue tits nesting for the first time in years in a box on the wall of our house. Recently there has been lots of chirping going on and the adult birds were incredibly busy going in and out feeding their babies. Then yesterday,nothing. Today my Husband looked into the box and said there is hardly anything in there. It’s not a box we can open though so not easy to see. Why would this be?

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nurturingnature June 11, 2015 at 10:38 am

Its probable that they have fledged! Its a good idea to buy/make boxes that you can open to clean out and use again. After cleaning use boiling water with no bleach/similar as it is not needed. Let it dry and replace. Cheers, George

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David June 13, 2015 at 7:39 am

Hi,
This year we had three nest boxes used by blue tits during May. All three were deserted leaving the eggs in the box. We also had a great tit using a box around the same time, the garden is around a 1/4 of an acre. What do you think is the most likely cause?

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nurturingnature June 14, 2015 at 6:46 am

Hi David, Several things spring to mind. The weather may have been unfavourable locally making the food supply poor for the chicks. One or both adults were killed. The parents may have been spooked by predators and abandoned the nest. The nest boxes may be leaking, allow wind to enter making nesting conditions unsuitable. Predators may have eaten some chicks or eggs.Clean them out with boiling water and replace, they will be used later in the year for roosting birds.Cheers, George

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elena June 14, 2015 at 3:40 pm

We have a family of great tits that have nested just under our guttering (it is a wooden facia which has a hole in the side so they are very safe!). We found a fledgling on the ground two days ago and left it alone as the parents were feeding it regularly. It seems to have been very happy and noisy in one of our shrubs, being regularly fed by the parents. However, this afternoon we can no longer hear its call and although the parents are still visiting the shrub and picking up sunflower seeds, etc, from the ground we don’t think the fledgling is there anymore? We’ve had lots of magpies around this afternoon and a lot of commotion. Could they have attacked the baby or is it possible it’s now able to fly and left the shrub? How can we tell? The rest of the nest is safe and well and parents are still feeding the young. Thank you.

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nurturingnature June 15, 2015 at 8:46 pm

Difficult to say Elena. Once fledged they stay nearby but will move way eventually. The parents would have been protecting their brood hence the commotion. Magpies have young to feed and only predate on chicks for a very short period of time when they need the protein. Other predatory species kill birds for pleasure 365 days a year….thanks for sharing, Goerge

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SUE May 4, 2016 at 8:27 am

we have great tits nesting in our bird box on the fence, the council are coming to replace the fence next week .if we move the bird box will the adults stop feeding the young ? at the moment they are both backwards and forwards, so they must have baby chicks what should I do?

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nurturingnature May 10, 2016 at 8:36 pm

Difficult one that.The fence men will disturb the birds from feeding as the replace the fencing. (Don’t forget your hedgehog hole!) Could they work it so that it is the last panel to replace in the day and remove nest box, replace new panel and put nest box up in same area on new panel? Cheers G

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Steve May 12, 2016 at 7:23 am

We have a family of great tits nesting in our camera box just now. We’ve had blue tits and greats nesting in it each year now for about 5 or 6 years. It’s a wonderful experience, but also very traumatic. There were eight eggs all of which hatched, but unfortunately a spotted woodpecker has found the nest and has already had two of the chicks. I’m now sat in my lounge and have been since 5.45am ready to frighten it off if it returns, which it has done once this morning. I know its only trying to feed it’s own young, but not with my babies it’s not, not if I can help it. Steve

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nurturingnature May 12, 2016 at 9:07 pm

Hi Steve, Put a metal or plastic cover over the hole with a hole cut in the middles of it of the same size as the hole in the nest box. This should stop the wood pecker enlarging the wooden hole. You can buy nest boxes with this metal plate already in situ. Thanks for sharing! Cheers, George

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Steve May 13, 2016 at 6:52 am

Morning back on guard duty again. Three times yesterday the woodpecker came and three times I chased him off. The box I have has the metal around the hole, thats not how he’s getting them. He gets hold of the nest pulls it out with the chicks still clinging to it. I covered it in anti pigeon spikes hoping that would deter him but alas it hasn’t. Next year I’m going to put an extra thickness of wood around the hole, creating a tunnel. Until then my chick vigil continues.

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nurturingnature May 13, 2016 at 8:43 pm

🙂 metal is better than wood !! Cheers G

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Dinny May 16, 2016 at 1:17 pm

Hi Steve,
We had a troublesome woodpecker visiting our nest box over several days. I could see his beak appear inside the box via our nest box camera. Each time his shadow appeared, the blind chicks lifted their heads for food! It was clear it was only a matter of time before he picked them off one by one. We decided, after much deliberation knowing the potential risk of abandonment, to modify the hole. The plan was to make it deeper and prevent the woodpecker from being able to reach into the box. When night fell, and the female was over the cup, we reinforced the hole with a 2-inch thick ‘frame’. It involved one screw, a hand drill and 5 seconds of drilling. The female was only temporarily disturbed and the risk paid off. The woodpecker has reappeared but discovered he can’t get to the chicks. We are happier and more optimistic the young will fledge in two weeks.

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Sue May 16, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Hi. Just to let you know that we have moved the bird box with the great tits in (we moved it at night when the parents were with the chicks) it was only a couple of feet forward and we used bricks to heighten the stand we used so everything was as high as the fence and they are still backwards and forwards feeding the babies you can actually hear the babies squeaking now so they are getting stronger, so if anyone needs to move a box I suggest doing it at night when all is asleeo goodness knows what our neighbours thought though creeping around in the dark!!!!!

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Steve May 16, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Hi Dinny

Thats exactly what i was going to do, but like you I was afraid it might disturb them. Sadly despite my efforts to frighten him away his determination is paying off and we only have two left. But i will do that tonight and hopefully it’ll work and be woodpecker proof. Its heartbreaking to see it happen as I’m sure you already know. Good luck with yours.

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Dinny May 17, 2016 at 7:16 am

Hi Steve,
You will find photos of the alteration to the nest box with this link:
http://birdboxcamera.tumblr.com/
Do let me know if your babies survive.
Good luck,
Dinny

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Steve May 17, 2016 at 8:10 am

Hi Dinny I’ve made the outer part ready to go on but luckily I’m glad to say our remaining two are about to fledge as they’re about 8 or 9 days in front of yours. So rather than risk upsetting the apple cart I’ll continue with guard duties till they go. We didn’t see the woodpecker yesterday hopefully fed up with being chased off. Thanks for the link I love your box very contemporary 🙂

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alan clarke May 17, 2016 at 5:44 pm

Hi. We have had a nest box up for several years, no birds used it until his year. We can hear the young cheeping from several yards away. I assumed that since it was intended for blue tits, and had a small hole, that we had blue tits, but they are actually great tits. Presumably, they excavated out the entrance hole to fit? On another point, are dried mealworms OK for the young?

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nurturingnature May 18, 2016 at 9:38 pm

They are Alan but soak them in water overnight, otherwise they can dehydrate the chicks who get their fluids from living caterpillars. It depends on the original size of the hole 32mm great 25mm blue tits. HTH, Cheers G

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Elaine Light May 19, 2016 at 8:01 pm

we have a nest box in our garden fitted with a camera. We have watched the great tit build the nest and go on to lay 9 eggs. All but one of the eggs hatched we have watched the parents feeding the chicks and have plenty of food, sunflower hearts, niger seed and coconuts with fat and seeds but sadly the chicks are dying one by one. We are now down to 3. It is 9 pm and one of the chicks is still chirping for food and the mother is being it on the nest where there are dead chicks. What has gone wrong?

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nurturingnature May 19, 2016 at 8:51 pm

A whole host of things can go wrong Elaine. There may be only one parent, chicks need insect food such as caterpillars, there may be a lack of them. Try soaking mealworms overnight and offer them in a dish for the great tit adults to feed their chicks on. Only one chick and one adult may survive to breed next year.That is how nature has evolved for these birds.its natural HTH cheers G

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Elaine Light May 22, 2016 at 4:43 pm

Well we are now down to 2 chicks on day 16. Both of them are of a good size. There has been no sign of the male for the last 3 or 4 days but the female is still coming in and feeding them. We are confident that both of them are going to leave the next probably in the next couple of days so fingers crossed. Our little female great tit has done a stirling job. There have been a couple of blue bottle flies coming into the nest probably to lay eggs so my husband is unsure if he should completely empty the nest once the chicks have left or should he leave the nest but remove the chicks that didn’t make it in case the great tit has another brood. Any advice would be welcome

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nurturingnature May 28, 2016 at 9:47 am

I would completely remove and use boiling water to clean nest box, then it dry completely and put it back up. Birds costs in them overnight, esp in winter. Not sure great tits will have another brood… if only one is left of pair highly unlikely. Cheers, George

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Elaine Light May 28, 2016 at 4:47 pm

both birds have now left the nest the first one on the 18th day and the second one the day after. We glimpsed the second one on the lawn just in time to see a neighbour’s cat get hold of it. We chased after the cat and thankfully it dropped the chick which fluttered off into some shrubs. My husband watched the garden for another hour before he had to leave for work and the female was keeping her eye on the chick. When I got home from work there was no sign of either bird so fingers crossed the cat never came back and the chick managed to fly off to somewhere safer. It’s been a very traumatic experience from start to finish but to say nature is amazing is an understatement. Thank you for your advice

Steve May 21, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Hi Dinny/Graham

Well we made it betweem my wife and I we managed to keep the woodpecker at bay and the final 2 chicks fledged today. Not the best of weather and I know its just the start of their dangerous little lives, but at least we’ve done our best for them. I’ve fitted the extra thick entrance now and replaced the metal rim so hopefully next year the woodpecker won’t be such a problem. Hope yours are still doing ok

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Dinny May 21, 2016 at 2:41 pm

Congratulations!!! I am so pleased for you. It is amazing how attached we have become to these young, I turn the camera on first thing in the morning to see the female leave the nest and keep it on for long hours to watch the ongoing nurturing.
The young in our nest box are close to fledging, maybe another five days. The parents are bringing in big, fat, juicy spiders (some so large the young almost gag), craneflies and caterpillars of all descriptions. We are down to five babies but not because of the activities of the woodpecker. Good luck with next year. Dinny

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nurturingnature May 22, 2016 at 9:58 am

Great, hopefully sort that issue! I have dunnocks and blue tits chicks. I will be doing a film on the blue tits shortly so do visit the site. Cheers, George

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Paula May 22, 2016 at 1:20 pm

Help please.
I don’t know what to do, we have great tits nesting in our box and there are babies in there. The little chirps have been getting louder each day and mum and dad have been happily feeding them.
Today, there’s no sign of mum or dad. I’ve been sat watching for a couple of hours now and the babies are really noisy. I’m worried. 🙁

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nurturingnature May 22, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Difficult one that Paula. If you have n’t seen the parents something untoward may have happened. Just keep watch they literally dive in and out, you may have missed them.Try contacting the RSPB, RSCPA for advice if you do not see them. Feeding them by hand could turn out to be a long job! Hope you sort it out Cheers, George

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Paula in Kent May 28, 2016 at 7:33 am

I’m so sad, had an active pair of blue tits parents, for 7 days cared so well for brood, that called out loud and happy then, the weather changed and parents abandoned. Sadly chicks died. I could stand to leave nest until later in season so yesterday opened box. There were six babies in a beautiful well constructed nest, could see the poo stacked neatly to rear of box. I cleared contents and used hot water to sterilise. I’ve hygienically disposed of contents. I’m not sure I can go through this sadness again next year but put box back up again. I can only think it was the sudden, wet and windy weather as I did observe the parents returning without any food, think they just gave up.

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nurturingnature May 28, 2016 at 9:42 am

Wet and windy weather is no good for blue tit chicks. The wind and rain can knock caterpillars, their main food resource, off tree leaves. A day or two of this weather can prove fatal to chicks. Thx for sharing George

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Clair May 29, 2016 at 8:46 am

Hi
We’ve had a pair of great tits doing a fab job with their nest and heard lots of chicks chirping, and much activity with the collecting of food!
As we have no camera in the box, we are unsure how many chicks, but literally overnight there is nothing! No noise and no activity.
We’re hoping it because they have fledged but are worried something else has happened 🙁
How long should we leave it before we take the box down to have a peak?
Thanks Clair

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nurturingnature May 30, 2016 at 9:06 am

I suspect they may have left. Just watch a while and if not adults return, by all means open up and clean it out, then put it up again. Cheers, George

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Clair May 31, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Thanks George, opened up the box and spotless apart from the compact nest material!!
So great news looks like all the chicks have fledged but feel cheated we didn’t get to see them! New box with camera on order!
Apart from a bit of poop the nest is really clean, no shell or nasties, should I completely empty it though and clean with boiling water or leave the bedding intact?

Thanks 😀

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nurturingnature May 31, 2016 at 7:56 pm

Yes completely Romove and put on compost heap! Boiling water, dry and replace box. Cheers G

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Martin June 4, 2016 at 10:55 am

I have a pair of Great tits that that have taken over the robins old nest box. It is a robin nest box with a large square opening to it and they have just jammed it full of nesting material, does anyone know if this is unusual?

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nurturingnature June 4, 2016 at 4:54 pm

I am aware that Great tits will use larger nest boxes and line it with nesting material, even though it is not required. This sounds like a very useful adaptation of an otherwise unsuitable nest box! Gotta hand it to them. thx for sharing, George

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Martin June 5, 2016 at 9:13 am

Thanks for the reply George I’ll watch them with interest at the moment I can’t see how they will get in and out without knocking all the extra material out of the nest

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nurturingnature June 5, 2016 at 9:41 pm

Yes unusual that. Send me a photo please. Thx G

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Laura June 5, 2016 at 7:19 am

Hi
I have great tits nesting in a box in my garden. I have been observing them daily and have noticed that the parents are both out finding food and are now taking seeds from the garden feeders into the box, which I think is a sign that fledging might occur soon. For years I have watched nesting broods but have never seen fledging and would love to see it. Is there any specifics to look out for or any time of day it usually occurs? I also have 2 cats and want to make sure that any unsuccessful flying birds aren’t prey for the cats!! So I’m happy to keep them in the house for a few days if needed!!

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nurturingnature June 5, 2016 at 9:40 pm

Hi Laura, Fledge time early morning 🙂 better get to bed early Cheers G

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sally rennie June 6, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Hi, I have a pair of Great tits nesting in a traffic cone in my garden. I looked in 3 days ago and there were 5 open beaks looking up at me as they have nested at the bottom of the cone I am unable to see how old the chicks might be. Mum and Dad are regularly coming back and fro with food but I am worried that when they are ready to fledge the chicks wont be able to get out. Any advice on what i can do would be appreciated.

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nurturingnature June 6, 2016 at 10:27 pm

A traffic cone in your garden? 😉 I assume it is standing the right way up? I can only think of putting a stick or two down towards the nest for them to climb up, or when you see the parents trying to wean the birds out and nothing happens, you may consider simply lifting the cone off and hoping the birds will fly to shelter. They usually fledge early morning…. HTH George

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Vikram July 4, 2016 at 3:47 pm

There is one pair of great tits coming in my hand made bird house I want to know why they are so confuse while living in bird house or the will take some time .”

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nurturingnature July 4, 2016 at 7:25 pm

Sorry Vikram, Don’t understand your question. Cheers, George

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Jo davis July 29, 2016 at 9:47 pm

We had two great tits who laid 5 eggs which all hatched.theparents fed them well,all got their feathers when suddenly 3 dead and two dying.they died over next 24 hours.why? We’re they poisoned or what?
We emptied out box and scalded it out and now the mother sleeps in the empty box almost every night.so sad!

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nurturingnature July 31, 2016 at 7:13 pm

Hi Jo,

I had a similar experience myself this year and in the past. Its likely they died of a lack of food. Thanks for sharing. George

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raymond liggett February 19, 2017 at 5:42 pm

Cleaned out box 2 weeks ago. Inserted a camera. Next day a tit appeared. It leaves early and returns just before dusk every day since. No activity other than tbat. No other birds. Would it be a female ? I think it might be a blue tit ? Any ideas . Ray.

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nurturingnature February 23, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Probably as females will use nest boxes to roost overnight in the winter. It may also be a Blue tit that is awaiting better weather before she builds her nest. HTH Cheers, george

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Christine hutton March 18, 2017 at 11:40 am

Hello, l have a bird box in the garden that l haven’t cleaned out. I have noticed some great tits have been going in and out of the box. I thought they were building a nest, to my surprise they are removing the old nest that is in there.
Are they removing the old nest, to then make a new one ?

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nurturingnature March 22, 2017 at 2:38 pm

Hi Christine, that sounds highly likely.They would not waste their time spring cleaning for another bird! Thanks, George

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Debbie Jeffery March 24, 2017 at 3:10 pm

I have 2 bird boxes in my garden, one for great tits which have been going in and out and a blue tit box about 15 feet apart but same fence,great tits won’t allow the blue tits anywhere near their potential nest box.what do you suggest?

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nurturingnature March 27, 2017 at 7:36 pm

Move Blue tit box where GT can’t see it. Both birds feed on similar prey so become competitors. HTH, cheers G

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BARBARA March 27, 2017 at 4:30 pm

HI I WAS WONDERING IF ANYBODY HAS SEEN BLUE TITS TAKING OUT BEDDING THEY HAVE JUST PUT IN ITS A NEW BOX SO IT WAS EMPTY WHEN THEY BEGAN ITS LIKE THEY CANT MAKE UP THERE MINDS SEEMS ORE GOING OUT THAN IN HOPE YOU CAN HELP WERE NEW TO THIS MARCH 27TH 2017

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nurturingnature March 27, 2017 at 7:35 pm

It’s possible that they can’t make their minds up but more likely another female is removing the nesting material another female has put inside. If so eventually one will win the nest box battle! Cheers G

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Holly May 4, 2017 at 7:59 pm

I have Great Tips nesting in my garden in a box. We have heard the chicks for the past week and have been watching the very busy parents tirelessly to-ing and fro-ing with tasty spiders and grubs etc. I don’t know how many chicks there were as we don’t have a camera but they were very noisy when they knew food was coming! Activity from mum and dad slowed over last couple of days. Found a pile of black feathers on the lawn this afternoon and one chick hopping around the garden. Parents are still feeding him but are much more nervous coming down to the ground. Is there anything I can do to help? Do you think others have perished or successfully flown? Thanks.

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nurturingnature May 5, 2017 at 9:22 pm

Difficult to say Holly. If all the feathers are black/brown they well well be that of another bird, e.g. blackbird or robin. They may still be inside the nest box if that is the case. I have Blue tits feeding right now. Thanks for sharing, George

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Vassilia Anderson May 5, 2017 at 1:49 pm

We’ve been watching a pair of great tits nesting in an old pump. They’ve been feeding four chicks successfully for about a week. The chicks started chirping yesterday however, we have not seen either adult since 11 a.m. Is it too soon to think the chicks have been abandoned?

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nurturingnature May 8, 2017 at 10:07 am

Sometimes one adult is killed a s happened to my Blue tits last year and the female carried on although most of her chicks died….
http://nurturing-nature.co.uk/wildlife-garden-videos/6-blue-tit-chicks-die-in-my-nest-box-in-worst-year-ever-2016-video/

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Rachel May 6, 2017 at 11:43 am

Hi, we have blue tits nesting in a box in our garden for the first time. We can hear the young chirping when parents arrive with food, this chirping only started a day or so ago. We are expected to have work done in our garden, scheduled for the next week or so but it is right underneath the post holding the box in place. How long would it be before they fledged the nest and would the work disturb them? We are having existing decking ripped and and slabs laying right under them so will be quite noisy/busy….. Thanks in advance for any assistance.

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nurturingnature May 8, 2017 at 10:04 am

It wont be to long now.. hang on in there as Blue tits had a terrible year lost year…. HTH, Cheers George

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Vassilia Anderson May 7, 2017 at 5:54 pm

Thankfully bot h adults have been in and out of the nest, frantically feeding since Friday evening. The rain and a noisy 4 year old grandson probably made the adults far more cautious than usual. I am deeply relieved as I truly believed something untoward had happened. Phew

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nurturingnature May 8, 2017 at 10:03 am

Phew! Thanks for sharing, George

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Stephen Day May 7, 2017 at 8:11 pm

Help great tits have hatched burds busy feeding but my cat has sussed what can I do I’m worried…

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nurturingnature May 8, 2017 at 12:13 pm

Hopefully they will stay in the trees and be reasonably safe from the predatory cat orkeep it indoors until they leave your garden? Cheers G

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Sue May 13, 2017 at 4:52 am

I have 2 best boxes with cameras, now. Initial box has had Bluetits nest almost every year with varying successes. This year is a first a successful brood of great tits, 7 eggs + 7 chicks until day before yesterday calamity! Visitation of a predator took 4 chicks + nest material! Hubble straight up ladder + fixed metal plate. suspected magpie/Great spotted woodpecker- as both seen in locality. unsure which but saw a long black beak enter via camera returned but didn’t manage to claim anymore. Fingers crossed remaining 3 mature to fledge! Any ideas? Thanks Sue

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nurturingnature May 15, 2017 at 5:17 pm

Yes you can buy a product to stop this…find it on this site.. https://www.livingwithbirds.com cheers G

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Elaine May 19, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Last year we fitted a camera to our nest box and to our delight great tits moved in. 9 eggs were laid with 8 hatching. Shortly after the male stopped coming so we could only assume it had died leaving the female alone to feed them. One by one they died until only 2 were left which considering only the female was left was a good result however the last chick was caught by the neighbour’s cat as soon as it left the nest box. We managed to chase it and it let go of the chick which flew into some bushes. We could only hope it survived. This year we had great tits again but after the trauma of last year we could only worry about what the outcome would be. Well to say it has been fantastic is an understatement. 7 eggs were laid with all of them hatching, one fell out of the nest early on and died but the other 6 have all thrived. One left the nest yesterday and the other 5 have gone today, what a stirling job the parents have done. We can only hope that they survive now they have left the nest.

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nurturingnature May 22, 2017 at 9:31 pm

Hopefully a few may survive. George

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pip May 20, 2017 at 9:32 am

Blue tits have made a nest in our meter box, on the side of the house and about ~10 days ago they have hatched. In about 10 days builders were going to put on scaffolding around the house to redo the roof. Will the Blue tits be affected by that and is it better to postpone the work or will the fledglings have flown the nest? What would be best?

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nurturingnature May 22, 2017 at 9:30 pm

It would certainly hamper/distract the adults flying in and out. they are not chicks for too long and will fledge in a short time… its up to you, wait a few weeks longer? George

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Robin June 20, 2017 at 8:51 pm

Good evening. We have a nest box with a camera and we have been watching great tits hatch and grow. There are four young, three of which will clearly be ready to leave the box in a few days, but the fourth bird is way behind. It is frustrating to watch the much larger siblings take nearly all the food. When the larger birds leave the nest, do you think that the parents continue to come back to feed the late developer? Many thanks. Regards, Robin

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nurturingnature June 21, 2017 at 8:24 pm

That Robin is an intersting question. There are factors which the parents will have to consider.i think all in all they would feed the 3 giving them more of a chance than wasting time, energy and effort on one weak sibling. Let me know what happens please. Thanks, George

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Robin June 24, 2017 at 11:06 am

Thank you for your reply. It was clear last night that the three larger birds were ready to leave. The much smaller fourth bird was nevertheless still very active. Early this morning the three larger birds had left the nest and the smaller bird was on its side, but still breathing. The mother did return to tidy the nest as usual. My impression is that she might have continued feeding, but the bird was unresponsive. Sadly the little bird has died and nature is taking its course. Regards, Robin

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nurturingnature May 30, 2016 at 9:05 am

My pleasure Elaine. Cheers, George

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