Those of us who have raised children will know the demand the ‘little darlings’ can place on us.  Then spare a thought for the Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) parents.  An average brood is 7 or 8 and I have read that each chick will be fed around 100 times a day!  Those adults are run ragged and their plumage soon gets a bit scruffy.

When we moved here almost two years ago I brought one of our old nest boxes with us and put it on the north facing end of my workshop.  Last spring, much to my surprise, a pair of Blue Tits took advantage and raised a brood (only one per year), this year they, or another, are back so I thought I would try and snap some comings and goings.

“Wait your turn!” At times it can get busy. The bird emerging is carrying a faecal sac which helps keep the nest clean
“Come on then, out you go”
An adult brings a small insect. I have zoomed in but can’t identify what it is
This time a small, green, moth caterpillar. These caterpillars are the staple diet of the chicks. The Tits will time their breeding to coincide with the opening of the new leaves on deciduous trees which the catties feed on before the leaves produce more tannin which is poisonous

The chicks will remain in the nest for about three weeks.  Then they will emerge, usually in the early morning, they quickly disperse to learn to fend for themselves.  Survival rate is not that high hence the large broods.

The type of nest box is called ‘Woodcrete’ by Schwegler.  Though they are slightly expensive they will out last all other types and offer perfect insulation for the nesting birds and are easy to clean at the end of the season.  They are available for most species who use cavities to nest in.

34 thoughts on “Parenthood

  1. Hello Mr B,

    Exciting times! And such wonderful images! Thank you for sharing with us. Much respect to all parents, for all that they do, to raise their little ones.

    A pair of sparrows have made their nest inside the electrical meter that is attached to our home. We can hear the chicks demanding food, and the parents frantically going to and fro with something in their beaks. My husband and I are hoping that all chicks will fledge safely 🙂

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  2. The Blue Tit apparently has the same nesting habits as do Blue Birds here in Virginia. My next door neighbor has two nesting boxes and I watch the birds do the same routine that the ones you have at your house. Enjoyed your photos!

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  3. Thank you for sharing these beautiful glimpses into the busy lives of the Blue Tit family, Brian. I’m full of admiration for the parents and the dedication they show to their brood. May many of them survive into adulthood and increase Blue Tit numbers.

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  4. I always love the sounds of baby birds raising hell as the adults are trying so hard to feed them. We have seen the Blue tit here hunting along our eves to find anything at all to feed the babies.
    Thanks for the information on these cute birds.

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  5. Being able to observe nesting activity is totally fascinating!

    Your photographs are spectacular! It is not that easy to capture the feeding and cleaning process, as I know from experience. The parents’ coming and going happens much quicker than one might expect.

    We thought we were lucky when our kids were infants that we were able to maintain a feeding schedule. Then they grew up. No such thing as anything resembling a schedule for anything after that!!

    Have a great weekend, Brian!

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    1. Thank’s for the visit Wally.
      You are right, their trips to the nest are usually in the blink of an eye. I was lucky here that they paused for a second or two, probably wondering what that great big black thing pointed at them from 15 feet away is!


  6. Interesting. That nest box looks really nice. Fortunately for the tree nesters (not us of course), there are tons of woodpeckers making sure there are plenty of holes to nest in. I usually suspect when I see such large broods that survival rate must be low which you confirmed. A gorgeous bird for sure.

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