Weather affecting Blue Tit brood size and timing in 2012
Bue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus
Average weight 11 grams
Average Lifespan 3 years
9 Blue Tit eggs - 3 hatched so far in this photo from 2012
have certainly noticed at birdboxesonline that last year that the
weather affecting Blue Tits was a huge contributing factor to the timing
of our Blue Tits nesting. We had eleven Blue Tits in one of our camera
boxes last year and all fledged on 17th May 2011, this year they laid 9
eggs of which only six hatched and survived and fledged 2 weeks later
than the previous year . On average talking to others it seems they are 2
weeks behind last year - certainly in Surrey and Sussex. Were yours
Weather affecting Blue Tits
11 eggs from the blue tit 2011 nest
birds time their nesting so there are plentiful supplies of green
caterpillars about. The yellowness of the males chest bib is an
indication of the amount of caterpillars he has eaten - this is due to
the carotene pigments in them - the females are more attracted to
yellower bib. The caterpillars can be found on many Trees plants and
bushes and it is a very common site to see a bird hanging upside down
from a twig to forage for them they need them to be plentiful! Each
chick can eat over 100 per day - no wonder the female looks tatty and
tired after they have fledged!
Blue Tit feeding chicks
average clutch of Blue Tit eggs tend to be about 10 - 12 although I
have heard from others as well as my own studies, this year's eggs seem
to be lower in numbers. The UK generally had above average weather in
March 2012 but went on to have the wettest April in over a century.
this will effect the population generally is a bit more guess work - 70
- 80% of blue tits die each year, a huge mortality rate and most of
that figure is made up of young birds - it's a brutal Darwinian
Fledgeling Blue Tit
Blue Tits can live a long time 15 - 20 years in extreme rare cases. So
will the population dip slightly or will the amount of breeding pairs
remain roughly constant? If they can survive through the first year they
have a knack for survival and are more likely to survive to breed
again? This paper has noted a higher chance of breeding females being
predated and the males possible countering that with feeding rituals. I
suspect that this year will make little difference on the population as a
whole. However if spring in 2013 has more weather affecting Blue Tits
it may be another story.
If only there were hard a fast rules about siting your bird
box but unfortunately there are not. As they say location, location location!
Here is some help to plan your camera nestbox site.
Below are 10 tips to help
Place your nest box with
camera with your species in mind
Do not place your nest box with camera in constant bright
Make sure your nest box
with camera is securely fastened
to the tree, post etc. Use screws, nylon straps to secure it - even in the
Make sure your nest box
with camera is out of reach of
ground predators - cats etc
Think about a hole protector if squirrels may be a problem -
not needed for woodpeckers as they will make their own hole into the nest!
Make sure your nest box
with camera has a clear entrance / exit hole to allow clear flight to and from the nest
Avoid putting it in well used areas - although I have
seen blue tits nesting by some bodies front door!
Make sure the nest box
with camera is clean at the end
of every season
Birds will nest where they
feel safe - not just from
predators but noise as well
If the bird box does not
get used- move it to another
position and try again
Make sure the hole has a clear flight path
gardens, bird boxes should be erected between 5 – 6ft if they
likely to be predated. At this height it will be a lot easier to clean them at
the end of the season
be put up higher 8 – 12ft if predation or human disturbance might be an issue.
Do I need to clean out my birdboxes from last year
Yes, Make sure
that the box is clean inside. Remove last years nest and wash the box inside with hot water. There is no need to add nesting material inside
the box if there is anything inside the box it usually gets removed by the
nesting birds anyway.
If you want to put a nest box camera in your existing birdbox or nesting boxes they can be bought from here
It seems to mean many things. The male does this when in his newly found nest box as in the video above. The female does this when demanding food as part of the mating and it also seems to reinforce the bonds between male and female. It is also used practically when the female is sitting on the nest and requires food.
The young also use it when newly fledged to indicate they want feeding.
I'm guessing it is a general signal and as the ideas communicated between birds ( food, sex, territory and alarm) are fairly basic and the signal need not be complicated. I am willing to be proved wrong on this by the way, I just don't think they have the time or brain capacity for anything else apart from basic survival stuff.
Great Tit chick doing the shaking wing thing. The parent is on the feeder below
Today i took my camera with me on my normal travels.
Squirell having a loaf in the sun. Quite cute
when not stealing the birdfood. This was up on leith hill - i travelled
up there and only got a good picture of a squrrel, could have looked out
my kitchen window! Recently on the hill i've seen tree creeper, red
kite, buzzard, lesser spotted woodpecker and the day i had my camera?
A really tatty looking Robin taken in the garden
Swallow on the overhead wires at the workshop. The workshop is down on the Sussex coast just outside L.A. - for those who know i dont have to explain it.There is an outbuilding that they nest in there. They are so acrobatic flying about. Sometimes they have come through the open door in the workshop and turned around on a six pence and flown out again. If my co worker was not there i would not have beleived how quick it was. I guess this one must have been out doing stuff of a stuff type nature as the thin white mark near his tail is a cobweb. There are always a good selection of birds at the workshop - you'd never think sparrows were in decline. Goldfinches, buzzards, egrets and barn owls are all regulars there