The Bird Box Diary
April (part 1)- 2002
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1 April - An interesting start to the day. After bringing what looked like hair on her first visit at 7.36am, it looked as though our female was making an early start, but in the next hour she returned just three times, only once with a bit of straw. Then, around 8.30am a series of visits (9) started when she took a bit of moss or straw out each time for the nest quarter hour.
Things then went fairly quiet until after 9.30am when deliveries started up again (twenty in the next three hours). She had a funny few minutes lunchtime when on three visits she brought in moss and took out (different) pieces. Just after 1pm There was a visit by the male, quickly followed into the box by the female (as usual).
There were another 34 visits up to 4.30pm, most with more nesting materials, mainly fine straw. Then the visits stopped and I though we had seen the last of our BT for the day.
At around 6.20pm she appeared again for four visits with moss and straw. She entered again at 7.05pm and settled in the nest cup for about 4 minutes. Finally, she made a late visit to the box, as this webcam image shows. She remained in the box for a while and looked as though she may have settled for the night - until she left after 3 minutes!
In the course of yesterday and this morning the nest cup has migrated a little to the left, to become more central.
2 April - Start times are getting earlier, except that this morning it was the male who arrived first (pictured - left). Shadows cast through the entrance suggested that he was at the box at 7.12am, although he did not enter until 7.15am, staying for about a minute. He settled into the nest cup and even tugged at the moss before leaving! Two minutes later he was back in, but this time his partner followed him in and he left straight away.
After that start, things went quietly for the rest of the early morning, with 13 visits by the female during which she brought in only two bits of nest material.
Activity picked up after 11am with 22 visits by the female before 1pm, the majority (16) bringing in materials for the nest, with nothing taken out!In the afternoon she continued to bring small bits into the box, although the frequency of the visits did not appear to be on the same level as earlier.
Then, in the evening around 7pm she again seemed to settle down in the nest. She spent nearly 30 minutes in there, including several short periods with her head tucked under her wing, but, as last night, there was a sudden change of mind(?) and she left.
3 April - Last night I added a second camera to give a close-up view of the nest cup. In the picture the main camera is on the left. The second camera is much more sensitive to IR light and so can give a brighter image at night. Both camera positions can be adjusted to give better (I hope) views as the family progresses.
I must point out that the box is not normally brightly lit like this at night. The small object indicated by the red arrow is the Infra-red emitter that normally provides the only light source at night.
Today I installed a cable from the new camera back to the computer so that I can switch between cameras when there is something interesting to look at in the nest cup!
Here is the first close-up image I've captured via the webcam to confirm the positioning of the camera.
No detailed review of the day, but a couple of observations - the first visit was by the female at 7.28am. It was nearly an hour before she came again, and there was only one more visit before the picture above was captured at 9.29am.
At the end of the day I saw two occasions when she brought small bits in between 5.30 and 6pm but there were no more visits afterwards.
4 April - A brief entry today, starting with this evening when our female appeared in the box just after 7.30pm and, so it seemed, settled for the night. After much shuffling about she tucked her head under her left wing (the picture) and I thought that this might be her first night in. It was not to be. She became restless again and eventually headed for the exit and paused there before deciding to leave.
During the day she has continued to bring in small amounts of (mostly) fine straw and some feathers.
5 April - A similar pattern again today. She continued to bring in fine straw and a few feathers. This evening she entered the box around 7pm stayed for a short time, left and returned just before 7.30pm.
She seemed to settle down, her head went under her wing at least once, but after about ten minutes became restless, spent a short time looking out, and then left.
This photograph shows the state of the nest tonight, showing how the sides of the nest have been built up since the last evening picture just three days ago.
Click on the image to see a larger version
In the evening she entered the nest just before 7pm and spent about five minutes getting settled and making adjustments before suddenly leaving for the night.
Her behaviour is very similar to what I saw in the final five days before egg laying last year, but this time it is about ten days earlier.
I changed the glass today. I wear rubber gloves and wash the glass thoroughly with hot water before putting it in. Hopefully this will have removed any scent of 'human' ( the birds seem to have been happy with the process over the last three years)!
7 April - The waiting continues. Today there was far less brought into the box and at times when I could watch, she seemed more interested in working on the shaping of the nest cup.
She was in the box for her first, short visit at 6.41am (sunrise was at 6.23am). In the evening (sunset at 7.43pm) she spent five minutes in the box at 7pm and then returned at 7.14pm. This time she spent several minutes dealing with something that was definitely annoying her. I caught sight of a tiny dark shape which she first deposited on the side of the nest cup and then ate. She then settled down until just after 7.35pm, when she got up, hesitantly approached the exit and left two minutes later.
One thing that I have noticed different from last year is that I can only hear occasional snippets of the male singing during the evening visits. He must be staying further away - last year he would often sing in the Birch tree right next to the box.
8 April - Perhaps because it was a cold start to the morning (with a slight frost), she did not appear in the nest box until nearly 7.30am. Then, during the day she continued to bring in fine straw, moss and feathers.
I have just seen another encouraging sign (at 2.05pm) - just after she entered the box with a bit of moss, the sound of her partner at the entrance caused her to drop the moss, spread and flutter her wings, put back her head and make a very squeeky call.
Immediately, the male came in and fed her with a mealworm. As soon as he left things got back to normal. She sorted the moss and left. While she was away the male came back to the entrance. Staying outside, it seemed as though he was looking for her. Later he entered the empty box and as he looked around the female entered. He left immediately.
I learnt today that 'my' Blue Tits have been beaten in the 'First Egg Stakes' by a bird in the garden of Elizabeth and Malcom Bigg who live not far from here. They came home from a trip to find two eggs this morning (their website is on my links page).
In the evening our female returned to the box briefly just after 7pm. A couple more visits brought soft stuff in before she arrived shortly before 7.30pm and started her settling down routine. Then, as the computer clock showed 7.37pm she was gone!
LATE NEWS - at 7.50pm she came back in and left again at 8.05pm!
9 April - I can confirm no egg delivery yet and the addition of soft furnishings is continuing with some enthusiasm!
Her first entry this morning was not until 7.32am. On her next visit 16 minutes later she brought in the first straw of the day and there were five more deliveries before 9am. Looking at the nest this morning I could hardly see any of the feathers already brought in as most of them were now buried. However, by the end of the afternoon the view had changed again with more feathers having been found through the day.
This evening she is again showing signs of settling down (at 7.30pm) - left by 7.40pm!
10 April - An earlier start this morning with a 'double visit at 7.13am. First the male, who entered, stood in the middle of the box looking around until his partner arrived at the entrance. He jumped into the nest cup (pictured left) and crouched down until she entered and stepped over him (pictured below).
He left and she settled in his place for a short time. A mixture of fine straw and feathers continued to appear (no moss now) at intervals through the day.
Two interesting observations to note during the afternoon. First of all, just after 1pm the female engaged in a bit of strange behaviour. She came into the box with a small insect in her beak and proceeded to make a series of chirping sounds. The last time I saw this was when she was bringing food for the young chicks last year. It was about half a minute before she decided there was no one to give it to and ate it herself.
Secondly, about 1.45pm a Bumble Bee entered the box. The BT came in twice with nesting materials, ignoring the bee both times. On the second visit she took a feather out with her when she left. The bee left soon afterwards, but returned for another visit later.
This evening the female spent some time settled in the box before 7.30pm, only to leave at 7.33pm, return at 7.43pm and leave again at 7.50pm. Each time there was a long pause at the entrance before departure. She did not return again this evening.
11 April - As the wait for the first egg goes on, our female's first visit to the box this morning was at 6.47am, and with her came a bit of straw. This seemingly early start was not followed up however, with only one more empty beaked visit before 9am.
I have not been watching during the rest of the morning, but at noon it seems that more straw has been added, covering any of the feathers already in place - I will be looking at the video later.
I have just checked through the video recordings covering the period up to 1pm. They show 14 more visits, including only six deliveries of material, and not much each time. The male entered the box once but also came to the entrance several times to have a good look inside.
I don't have a record of the afternoon, but after 6pm We saw a familiar pattern, starting with a quick visit at 6.53pm , followed by a 15 minute stay at 6.58pm during which she shuffled about a lot in the nest cup, trying to get comfortable(?) facing in just about all the points of the compass. She re-entered the box at 7.21pm and this time stayed until 7.32pm when she left for the night.