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Old 20th May 2007, 07:49 AM   #1
seer
 
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Unhappy abandoned young blue tits

Bought a ready made concrete bird box here in Germany before easter. Put it up on the monday night and to our delight Tuesday morning we had investigating blue tits. Watching them everyday build the nest, we were excited when they began feeding the young a couple of weeks ago. Earlier this week I noticed no activity to and from the nest and thought I'd missed the young fleeing the nest. Having noticed flies hanging around the nest the last couple of days I became suspicious that their was a problem in the nest.
I was right had a look and there is at least 4 young, 2 of which are much less developed than the others.

Apart from the possibility of one or both of the adults having been killed. What other reason would the abandon? And what should I do now apart from clean out the nest.

Do you think that there is the chance of another nest being built? I doubt it.

Last edited by seer; 20th May 2007 at 07:50 AM. Reason: didn't mention the young were dead
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Old 20th May 2007, 12:43 PM   #2
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Sorry to learn about the dead chicks. Could be several possibilities why the nest has been abandoned. Less developed young is usually because of stronger, greedier and more dominant chicks getting all the food. (Runty on Springwatch last year - good example)

Nest could have been invaded by predators, if the predators harrass the box often enough the adults may decide to forget it. Not sure what predators are around in Germany, but over here squirrels or cats constantly trying to get in, or a persistant bumble bee may upset the parent birds. Is your nestbox anywhere where other people could poke around out of curiosity? Although you may know not to disturb the nest, possibly someone else has been taking a regular peek without your knowledge.

Shame anyway, sorry again
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Old 21st May 2007, 07:52 AM   #3
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Default Update 6 dead

Later that day I took the box down from the tree and removed the nest, it didn't smell too good and was full of maggots. There were 6 young in all, 4 well developed (at a guess only a few days from leaving) in the nest proper and 2 on the edge (mcch younger only a few days old perhaps).

Today I have seen a couple of blue tits in the garden and they did look in the nest box. I'll just have to wait and see what happens.

A few days ago I had seen one of the adults taking food to the entrance of the box and on one occassion entering, but leaving with it. At the time I thought they were trying to entice the young out, but now I suspect they were already dead then which further mystifies me. We had seen a dramatic drop in the weather from mid 20's to around 12 degrees C during the day Maybe it was the cold?
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Old 21st May 2007, 10:17 AM   #4
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Cold could have certainly been a factor, particularly as you mention it was a concrete nest box. I would advise against using them (use wooden ones instead) for precisely that reason).

Sorry to hear about all of the chicks dying
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Old 28th May 2007, 05:28 PM   #5
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sorry to hear about the tits. exactly the same thing happened to me last year. I had 5 dead chicks of varying different development stages and felt so sad. Happily this year, my blue tits have again nested and are very hard at work feeding. I'm hoping for a happy ending this year. i have put a fat ball in a nearby tree and it is going down a treat! I'm going to have some fat babies!
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Old 31st May 2007, 11:34 AM   #6
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Hi, I had a nest box with a pair of nesting bluetits in my garden. We have a cat who would sit under the tree but couldn't climb it because I had put a barrier about 6 feet up. Anyway, didn't see the parents since day before yesterday so I went up to take a look hoping they had just fledged without me noticing. Spotted two dead chicks before I fell off the ladder and had quite a bad landing for good measure.

Anyway, I'm pretty close to throttling the cat, it sounds like her presence might have been enough to drive the parents away? The only other thing I can think of is that there was terrible weather, heavy wind and rain, for about 24 hours just after the last time I saw the parents. Could this have been the cause? Somehow natural causes (ie non-domesticated killing machine) would be less upsetting.

Update: One of the parents just came back to check the nest. Very sad

Update: Just cleared out the dead chicks. 6 healthy looking fat little guys and 1 runt, definitely all alive 'til very recently. I'm an idiot for thinking I could have nesting birds in a garden with a cat. I feel dreadful.

Last edited by bt4; 31st May 2007 at 07:28 PM.
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Old 2nd June 2007, 08:36 PM   #7
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I never quite understand why wildlife lovers choose to keep cats as pets.

I think it's fine for people to own cats, if that's what they want, but unless the owners take measures to reduce the predatory behaviour of their pets then I don't think they should entice birds (and other wildlife) into their gardens. The phrase 'lambs to the slaughter' comes to mind.

Am I right in thinking that most Americans keep house cats? - ie the cats aren't let out to roam. Or is that just not feasible for pet owners here?
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Old 2nd June 2007, 09:08 PM   #8
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Thanks ever so much for your useful comments georgie, really helpful.
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Old 3rd June 2007, 01:04 PM   #9
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Sorry bt4 - I didn't mean to upset you when you're down.

But I just get upset reading the catalogue of sagas which are similar to yours -and you are one of the people who obviously cares about your birds......

I have a good friend who gardens in an environmentally sensitive way and provides nesting sites and food for the birds. BUT, she owns three cats and makes no effort to restrain them from predating on the wildife and every day a succession of birds, mice, voles, frogs etc etc are brought into the house. Sometimes some of these poor creatures escape, to die elsewhere in the house and then the house reeks.... one time I made the ever so mild suggestion of fitting collars with bells on the cats, but she won't even think of that (apparently they don't like them!). Although even that might only save some adult birds, fledglings would still be easy prey......
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Old 4th June 2007, 01:06 PM   #10
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Hi All

I am very sorry to hear of your sad story. I will say to you what someone said to me last month. Don't feel guilty as you have done nothing wrong. I have 2 cats and my neighbour has 2 cats. There are also several other cats that roam around. I had a nest with 6 baby blue tits last month and also thought the worst. I was also guikty or repeatedly peeking into the nest. And yet - despite all that interference, the chicks were raised and flew away. I even saw 2 of the cats walking along the fence above the nest and also keeping guard at the bottom of the tree. so none of this put off the parents at all. I watched their non-stop to-ing and fro-ing to the nest with food. That was my first time with nesting birds and I am hoping they will return. So it was circumstances - not you. Good luck for neXt time
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