Bluetit Diary 2011 -  May (13)

Friday 20th May, 2011

We have just woken up to the fact that we haven't seen Joe around Box1 recently.  As a result, I started to hunt through the past photographs to see when he last came to feed the chicks.

I started looking for Joe from the first of May and soon found him bringing food to Amy as she incubated the eggs.
By the 5th May, the eggs had started hatching, but Amy was still spending most of her time sitting on the remaining eggs and the hatched chicks, relying on Joe to bring her food.

This is about the only picture I have found with Joe feeding Amy while positioned at the top of the picture.

This was recorded on May 10th.  Although Amy is no longer incubating the remaining 7 eggs (there were 14 originally and 7 have hatched), she is still spending a lot of time sitting on the chicks.

So Joe was still playing his part on 10th May.

So far it has been pretty easy to be certain that we were seeing Joe, as Amy was in the picture too.  Now however, it is much more difficult to find a picture of both parents in the nest box at the same time.

However, Amy always goes to the top of the nest box to feed her chicks, whereas Joe normally goes to the bottom.  We have noticed in previous years that the two birds normally adopt different feeding positions - presumably in order to reduce the chance of collisions.  So I think this must be Joe, too.

Here is another shot of him on another visit a couple of minutes later.
Two days later on the 14th, he is still bringing food to the chicks.
And again, on the 15th May.
Here he is on the 16th, coping with the usual result of feeding one of the chicks.  But here the record dries up.  Joe made plenty of visits on the 16th May but I can find no record of him on the 17th or later.
This image of Joe at the bottom of the picture is the last view of him that I can find.  The time is just after 8pm and there had been no sign of his visits getting fewer.  A male that loses interest in his offspring, as some do, normally feeds them less and less until he eventually just stops.  Joe did not behave like that.  His cessation was sudden and total.
So what could we do to help Amy cope on her own?  We thought the best thing was to provide her with an easy supply of mealworms.

As the Fat Feeder was not on offer at the moment, fat blocks lack the moisture so essential to food for chicks in the nest, we loaded it with a small bowl of mealworms and being the clever bird she is, she found them almost immediately.

This is the mealworm dish inside the Fat Feeder.
Another mealworm thirty seconds later.
The lucky chick is the one on the right half way up the picture.  Amy has managed to feed the chicks by herself for the last three days, she should find it a bit easier now.

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