Nestbox Diary - 2006

May (part 5)


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21 May - (The twentieth day for all but one chick) -

The Chicks have fledged

After a night without mum the chicks had a rather scary start to the big day. By first light at around 4.30am they were already busy preening, although they hadn't started flapping wings.





Then,  at 4.44am they were surprised by the appearance of a cat's paw at the entrance.

The chicks had a similar experience in their previous nesting of 2004. After that I put up a wire panel above the box, and one to the side. However, when no birds nested last year I decided to remove the latter.



This was the direction that the cat approached from - you may just make out the side of its face in this image as it peers into the box.

The chicks had started chirping and I guess that may have attracted the cat's attention.

Anyway, it didn't persevere and soon the chicks were back to their normal selves.



They didn't receive a visit form either parent until 5.24am when mum appeared with what seemed to be a sunflower kernel (the feeder has emptied quickly over the last few days!).

Over the nest twenty minutes there were twenty more feeds, mainly by mum, although dad did bring some in.



It wasn't until 5.50am that flight trials began. When one of them flew up and perched above the glass panel it seemed to frighten the rest, and they reacted much as they did when the cat's paw appeared!




It was during this period that one of the chicks perched in the exit. For a moment it looked as though it was leaving, but mum arrived and it returned to the nest.



From then on until around 9.15am there were regular feeds, and the chicks were extremely agitated, with lots of trial flights, and very noisy.


Then, after flying across the box, one of the chicks flew up to the exit, looked out briefly and was gone. It was a sudden move that we nearly missed.




Four minutes went by before the next chick looked as though it would leave, but again the appearance of mum interfered.

She pushed past to enter the box, but then found herself trapped as the chick continued to look out. She had to wait for an opportunity to leave, offered when the chick looked back into the nest.


When she left a second chick started flying around the box.

 The one at the entrance was obviously an obstruction, and this time it was the second chick that took advantage of a moment when it leaned away from the opening, and so became the next chick to fledge.




The third chick to leave was also thwarted by mum arriving.

Before she entered it jumped down, and in the last image it is hidden behind the right-hand chick in the foreground.



Once mum had left there was a quick flight around the box before the third chick finally headed for the exit and left.





Shortly afterwards, Chick #4 seemed to play hide-and-seek with us. All of a sudden, one of the of the four remaining chicks flew almost straight up and disappeared from view, leaving Sheila and I wondering if we had missed its departure.

For a minute or so the three other chicks remained quite quiet. Then one of them flew up to the exit to look out, there was a flurry of feathers, and the hidden chick flew to the exit and pushed pass to go out of the box.



When it came to the next chick (#5) to leave just a minute later, things were much more straight forward as it flew to the exit, looked out briefly , and then flew off.




The remaining pair of chicks spent the next minute or so next to the glass, and seemed to take it in turns to flight test their wings.

Then, one of them moved nearer the exit for a couple more tests before heading to the opening and leaving with hardly a pause.



The last chick stayed by the glass for another half an hour.

During that time, mum came in several times, although the chick didn't seem very hungry. In fact, mum took away one of the sunflower kernels that she had brought in.



Finally, at around 9.59am the Great Tit's nesting efforts came to an end when the last chick first of all flew up so that it was out of sight above the entrance., and then headed out to, hopefully join the rest of the family in the trees nearby.




By the time the chicks had all fledged the rain had started, and since then we have had periods of heavy rain and sunny periods. As soon as the first shower had eased I took a walk down the garden but couldn't see or hear any sign of Great Tits. I haven't even seen the adults coming to the sunflower feeder.

There is plenty of cover for the fledglings, both in the garden and along the line of conifers, so I'm optimistic that they will have found shelter from the worst of the rain.


A last picture to complete this entry, an image of the empty nest taken before I removed the Olympus camera from its mount behind the box.

The nest will stay in place until Autumn, when I may consider making some changes to the set-up before next year.



It's been another fascinating couple of months, and a process that never ceases to amaze me. I hope that it has also been enjoyable for you. Thank you very much for the kind words of support that I have received during these eight weeks.

I'm now going to take a little break from the diaries. For some of that time mybitoftheplanet will be 'on location' with diary updates to come soon afterwards!

Click on the images to see larger versions -

..   .Nest building...

Egg Laying ....Incubation......Hatching

The Chicks (week1)

The Chicks (week2)

2006 Nestbox Diary Index.