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Elizabeth and Malcolm's Bluetit Pages
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Blue Tit Tragedy

 
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johnblue



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Gosport, Hampshire

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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 3:01 pm    Post subject: Blue Tit Tragedy Reply with quote

I have a bird camera box with 32mm hole mounted eight feet from the ground west facing on the side of my house. October 2012 a blue tit (with a silver ring on right leg) started roosting in it and never missed a single night. Nest building by the same bird commenced April and a perfect nest was built. Eight eggs were laid, incubated and seven chicks hatched, the male was only observed feeding the female a few times while she sat on the eggs. It seemed the ringed female was the only one feeding the young. At five days old all seven chicks were doing fine, on the sixth day, tragedy! Nest completely empty, including the one dud egg with NO damage or disturbance to the nest. The nest box bares NO sign whatever of damage, nor was there any evidence of dead chicks, remains, or shell on the ground.
Sad Is this a case for Jonathan Creek?
Or can somebody, please, please crack the case of the vanishing tits.
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blondebirdie



Joined: 10 Jun 2011
Posts: 59
Location: Essex

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really strange and no idea what could have happened. I'd say a rat but being on the house makes that unlikely...
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ajkempton



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 23
Location: England

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have had exactly the same thing happen to my nest of blue tits. The box is on the wall at the back of the house and there was no way anything could get up there. Had 9 chicks and at about 10days old, when we came back from a weekend away, the nest was empty.
I posted on this site and had a reply from Elizabeth who thought the chicks had either died and been removed by the parents, or more likely been predated by a woodpecker.
It is so sad after all the hard work by the parents and I feel a great sense of loss as well!
Fingers crossed for our boxes next year.

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Amanda
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johnblue



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Gosport, Hampshire

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:24 pm    Post subject: Blue Tit Tragedy Reply with quote

I have never seen rats or woodpeckers around but it got me thinking about other predators.
Thanks to Blondbirdie and Amanda I think if have found the culprit. MAGPIES!
Here is my reasoning.
Magpies are frequently in the vicinity of my house; they are very crafty and agile and can hang from gutters and protrusions. The nest box hole is 32mm, too large for the safety of blue tits. (BTO recommend 25mm for blue tits) An adult Magpies skull measures 30mm in width and 23mm in height allowing it to penetrate its head into a 32mm holed nest box.
Additional problem is the depth of the box. Mine is only 105mm from the bottom of the hole to box floor level. With the build up of nest material the top of the nest is just below the bottom of the hole, making them easy prey for magpies. This should be taken into account when mounting a bird box to encourage blue tits.
John
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johnblue



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Gosport, Hampshire

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:06 pm    Post subject: Blue Tit Tragedy Reply with quote

Amanda
I am sorry to read about your blue tit loss, it is disheartening. I have spent many pleasurable hours watching this little roosting bird (with a silver ring on its leg) every night throughout the winter months through raging gales, snow, hail and shivering in the bitter cold, then to find a mate and raise 7 chicks to 5 days old, all to vanish in one day.
I think a serious redesign of the nest box is required to prevent the possibility of it happening again.
John
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ajkempton



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 23
Location: England

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:02 pm    Post subject: Blue tit tragedy Reply with quote

John blue,
We also have magpies so either them or the woodpeckers took mine.
Nature is very sad sometimes.
I also thought I'd put a plate around the hole to make it smaller.
Good luck with your changes to the box.
Hopefully we'll be here next year with good news!

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Amanda
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johnblue



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Gosport, Hampshire

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Blue tit tragedy Reply with quote

Follow-up to “blue tit tragedy” 2013
The nest box (with camera) has now been rebuilt, with a 25mm hole and a deeper box hopefully this will prevent those pesky magpies taking the chicks. A pair of blue tits have now just nested and 7 eggs have been laid to date (albeit it late in the season). This season fewer magpies have been seen in the vicinity, so fingers crossed for a successful outcome.
I will keep you informed of results
johnblue
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johnblue



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Gosport, Hampshire

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Blue tit tragedy Reply with quote

Blue tit tragedy the sequel. On the 13th May the seventh and last egg was laid and serious incubation started with the attentive male popping in regularly with fat grubs. The diligent female only left the nest for a few minutes during the day
Hatching period should have been around the 28th May it was not long after this date the male disappeared from the scene. The conscientious female sat until the night of the 6th June then gave up and disappeared. Infertile eggs? Ironically no magpies have been observed in the close vicinity.
I think I will give it up and go back to fishing.
John
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