Wildlife Wednesday: Nest time

May is my favourite month of the year: the warmer weather has arrived, the days are longer, the bluebells are blooming but my most favourite reason of all is that it is nest season. There are nests everywhere yet they are hidden away and my enjoyable pastime is to hunt them down.

Last weekend we visited my step father’s woodland home which teams with life at this time of year. Year after year many species nest in similar locations so it isn’t difficult finding them. The treecreepers always nest under the roof shingles, a blackbird builds her nest on top of the gas bottle, a pigeon nests on top of the support poles under the covered way and the magpies choose one of the high pines at the bottom of the wood to build their domed nest.

This nest belongs to a pair of song thrushes and has been built within the dumper truck!  So far there are 4 beautifully blue dappled eggs.

The arrows show the location of the nest in the dumper. Each year the thrushes and blackbirds nest in the most inconvenient places. The blackbirds that nested within the firewood processor successfully fledged about a week ago. We presume it is the same bird that nested here last year because she carried on sitting despite the machine being operated; splitting timber into logs and making a loud noise and rattling!

This nest of blackbird chicks was in the dumper truck last year. They are lying low and still in the nest so as not to draw attention from predators. You can just make out their open eyes in this picture.

There are many nest boxes placed around the wood which become home to clutches of blue tits and great tits each year.

There are only two great tits in this box which look as though they are ready to fledge. A couple of un-hatched eggs can been seen

These blue tit chicks are tiny so must be only a few days old. When they hatch out of the egg they are feather-less, blind and totally dependent on their parents for food, warmth and removal of waste. After around 11 days their eyes will open and around 19 days after hatching, they will leave the nest. Chicks in the nest are known as nestlings and flown chicks are known as fledglings. 

After taking the photo I stepped back and waited for the parents to return. Here is one of them taking food into the box. I was stood just 4 metres away while the parents took it in terns to feed their young.

This camouflaged nest box is full of blue tit chicks. Watch the video below and see what happens when I imitate a parent bird approaching the nest. The parent birds don’t squeak like I do here but the high pitch noise tricks the chick into thinking a parent bird is bringing food. Watch how the chicks jump upright with their gapes (that’s the name for their mouth opening for food) wide open. Their gapes are large in comparison to their body size and are brightly coloured so mum and dad know where to deposit the food.

This picture was taken a couple of years ago and a bit later in the month of May. This blue tit chick was preparing to leave the nest and was calling continuously to its parents as they were trying to persuade their young leave the box.

This year there has been some disappointments. The tawny owls who have nested in the same box for 10 years failed to lay any eggs this year. The female spent a lot of time in the box but the bird cam filmed the lack of eggs each day. In previous years the owls have successfully raised 2 chicks.

A nest cam set up in the owl box captured this shot of two tawny owl chicks last year. Owls nest very early in the year meaning the chicks can be seen pocking their head out of the box without being hidden by leaf foliage which is yet to appear.

I spotted this fledgling owlet a couple of years ago at the bottom of the wood. It was sat on a low branch and just glared at me till I left it in peace.

I discovered these two beautiful tawny owlets at another wood near Selby. Typically, their nest was in the hollow of a tree making taking a photo was a lot easier than getting a snap in the owl box.

Wren’s nests are easily identifiable by their messy oval construction of leaves and moss with a circular entrance that appears to have a mini weaved bottom stable door at the entrance.This one is nesting within a plant climbing up the front of the house.

The treecreeper nests between the wooden shingles and roofing membrane each year.  Here is an adult bird carrying nesting material and is about to nip into the gap. 

Do you have nest boxes in your garden? If you do, I would love to know what birds you have nesting in them.

By Jenni Tulip

I'm a bright-haired, hill walking, magpie whispering, skull collecting, tree hugging, money saving, bird watching, happy campervanning, ferret fanatic, woodland dweller sharing my stories and passion for the outdoors to inspire you to immerse yourself in nature.