Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Blue Tits Nest Building.

For several days we have heard the Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) constantly tapping inside the nest box situated on the rear of the garden shed. This usually indicates that a pair have decided to set up home again and are either making sure that the structure is sound or are pressing nesting material into the base. This box has been used almost annually by Blue Tits for over 9 years and only once by the larger Great Tit (Parus major). Pairs usually persist from year to year when both partners survive and are basically monogamous with a low incidence of simultaneous bigamy in optimal habitats. I have seen at least one other individual, possibly another pair, feeding in the garden up until yesterday when one individual was promptly chased away by the territory owner.  

While gardening today I noticed that at least one of the pair was carrying nesting material and sometimes perched briefly in the Lilac before entering the nest box so I took the opportunity late this afternoon to grab the camera and park myself on a garden chair about 15 feet away and wait for some possible action.
It wasn't too long before one appeared (difficult to tell whether it is the male or female) and landed directly on the nest box plate .......

 ... then pushed its head into the hole, still flapping to maintain momentum, before retracting briefly.

 A momentary pause and then disappeared  inside.

The nest pad inside the box is often 3 to 4 inches deep. It is typically made up of moss, probably scavenged from a nearby garden (my small lawn has plenty, so I'm not sure why they are not using that!) mixed with together with pieces of dead grass and straw. The nest cup will be lined with dry grass, hair, wool and some feathers in readiness for egg laying that will take place during April. If successful there will be one brood and whilst the clutch can vary from 2 to a 18 but providing the location and food source of insects and spiders is adequate usually averages 10 to 12 with incubation taking 13 to 16 days. In a poor year the clutch has been a low as 5 and in recent years I have often discovered that some chicks have not survived to the fledgling stage so we will have to wait patiently for this years outcome.

This whole sequence took only 3 seconds and whilst I waited patiently for another 10 minutes was not repeated so I felt very fortunate to have grabbed these few postable shots. [All taken at F8; 1/200 - 1/250; ISO 800; 210mm and cropped.]   FAB.

For more WORLD BIRD WEDNESDAY images hosted by Springman please follow this link.

43 comments:

  1. Frank, I love this post. I'm wondering is that Mom or Pop or both doing all that construction? Carol

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  2. Hi Carol. A joint effort although the male is probably collecting most of the basic ingredients with Mrs. arranging the pieces.

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  3. OH what a great series....it will be great fun to see the family activities thru the season.

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  4. Being able to see that nesting activity would be great but getting photos as well is a bonus!

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  5. Hi Sondra. I'll do my best, when time permits, and hopefully get some images of a successful breeding cycle.

    Thanks Mick. If the activity continues later this week I'll set up the gear on a tripod and hopefully get some sharper shots.

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  6. This is a most wonderful post! How fortunate you were to capture the nest building through your camera lens ... and lucky for us to be able to view your splendid photographs. It's always a joy to view such behavior. Looking forward to nestling and fledgling images!

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  7. Great series!! They are such great workers. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  8. Thank Julie G. A few lucky seconds of activity. I'm always hopeful that we will see the continuing saga.

    Cheers Gary. They are a tireless little species.

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  9. Hi Frank.. My has it been a year already !
    I recall last years photo's of the Blue Tit and the nest box!!
    Real precious to see them bring in the nesting materials !!
    Wonderful photos of the happening!!
    Hope all is well with you!!

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  10. Hi Grammie. You have an excellent memory. Sun has been shing so all's well over here.

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  11. Wonderful sequence, Frank! It always makes me glad to see birds building nests, a thumbs up to the future!
    Thanks for leaving a comment on my Snow Geese pics. The snow was blowing into my eyes; so I was shooting blindly. Manual exposure would have been very difficult under these conditions.

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  12. Thanks Hilke. Fingers crossed that all goes well this season for them.

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  13. What a great series of action shots. :))

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  14. A wonderful series of photos Frank!
    Very pleasing to have such sightings in the garden. Your patience certainly paid off.
    Brilliant!

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  15. Hi Frank,
    I love these photo`s! We have not seen any action around our nest boxes so far this season, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will get at least one used!
    J
    Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

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  16. A beautiful set of photos of some great workers. Well done!
    Have a nice day.

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  17. What great little birds - I remember spending a few days trashing my way through some woodlands in the NE of Engalnd with a ladder over my shoudler ringing nest chicks - seemed like a good idea at the time - and the beer was noce at the end of the day!

    Nice shots!

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  18. Brilliant shots Frank. Looks as though you will have lots of baby Blue Tits in the not too distant future.

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  19. that was nice to see. You got some great shots to show. :)

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  20. Great captures of the nesting activity!!

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  21. Excellent Frank. Great captures of the visiting bird. Going to be interesting following their progress.

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  22. Hi Frank.....we are also fortunate to see your images....they are beautiful. I love the moss in the blue tits beak, so pretty.

    I find we generally get around eight to a nest. Fortunately I have never found any in the nest when I clean the box out........

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  23. Briliant flight shot captures,outstanding Frank.
    John.

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  24. It is nesting time. Great photos Frank.

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  25. A lovely moment to observe Frank let alone get great images of. I hope to here/see more of these great little birds over the next couple of months.

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  26. Hi Lois. Thanks.

    Hi Shirleyanne. Just one of those 'moments in time'.

    Thanks John. I do hope you get get some occupants in your garden boxes.

    Hi Fotokarusellen. Thanks very much.

    Hi Stewart. After all that effort a few beers sounds just the ticket.

    Midmarsh John. I do hope they produce a reasonable brood AND I get a chance to see them.

    Thanks NatureFootstep.

    Thanks Kerri. Hopefully they haven't finished and I may get a few more over the coming days.

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  27. Cheers Keith. I hope the little fellows play ball for the camera!

    Hi Cheryl. A chance moment and for once I was in the right mode. I think in previous years one of the local cats has annoyed the parents at fledging time and they then tend to stay away from feeding and encouraging the youngsters to leave the box. Hopefully we can prevent that happening this year.

    JRandSue. Many thanks John.

    Cheers Bob, I wonder who is next!

    Hi Andrew. Well, I'll do my best but nature is fickle so keep those fingers crossed.

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  28. You struck gold with these gorgeous pictures Frank. The gods were smiling! I love your writing style so much too, very sing song and informative at the same time. Bravo!

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  29. Cheers Springman. Yes, for once everthing clicked into place in a matter of seconds and the 'force' was in my favour.

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  30. Wonderful captures of these industrious little birds!

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  31. A bed of moss- I can think of worse!

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  32. He or she is so intent on getting that moss in there! Great action photos,phyllis

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  33. This is my favorite time of year Frank. Watching birds nesting is one of my favorite pastimes. This pair is obviously serious about the beginning of their breeding season and you have some incredible photos of them! I am waiting impatiently for my Oak Titmice and Western Bluebirds to begin.

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  34. Frank, it is a sight filled with joy and hope!

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  35. Nice shots! - such a good sign when the nesting activity begins - so far in our neighborhood the boys are just bragging and posturing - no nesting for songbirds yet. Soon.

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  36. Thanks Pat.

    Mike B. Wait till they add the soft feathers etc.

    Hi Phyllis. Appreciate your visit and comments.

    Hi Larry. Mine as well. It has been a toss up between gardening or watching them arriving at the nest box ... no guesses what won.

    Hi Kathie. The beginning of another of natures magical cycles.

    Hi Chris P. I guess your later winter means you'll be a little way behind us. Some of our resident species will be well into their breeding cycle and then we have the migrants to come very soon. A great time of year.

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  37. May I just add my voice to the chorus of praise for this series. What a wonderfully intimate set of portraits of domestic life in the tits' household. Fabulous work!

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  38. It is wonderful to see such scenes... there is a hope that winter is finally over! Love these shots.

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  39. Thanks Tim. I really appreciate the compliments.

    Hi Joanna. Yes, Spring is definitely here to stay. Hopefully some more images of the busy builders will be available soon.

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  40. Nice capture of the Blue TIt Frank. These type of images are always interesting.

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  41. Thanks Roy. You may see a few more soon!

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  42. Great photos - I've got a pair building in my garden. Very exciting if they complete the process and go on to eggs and chicks. Will have to keep a close eye on the local cats!

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  43. Hi Clare. Thanks for the visit. If the warm weather continues and their favourite food (caterpillars) are available it should be a good breeding season.

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