Bluetit Diary    May 2020 (7)



Saturday 9th May, 2020

Box1 appears its usual mess of chicks lying on top of each other.  It is strange how little they seem to move except when a parent is bringing food - and even then they are more restrained than most broods of chicks I can remember.

Both parents are busy bringing food.  They each have their favourite places to stand when they are feeding the chicks.  This is Chris.  He prefers to stand above them. 

Here he is again.  Although he is the only parent in the nest box, he is standing in exactly the same place.

Chloe, on the other hand, prefers to stand to the right of the nest cup.  You can tell which bird is which by where they stand when feeding the chicks.

This is a more complicated scenario as when Chris goes into the nest box he finds Chloe sitting on the chicks.  No problem.  He simply passes the food to her.  Everything seems to be going along splendidly.  Thank goodness!

The situation in Box2, however, is dire.  Most of the chicks appear to have disappeared, although one can see a pink blob at the bottom of the nest cup.  I can only surmise that several chicks must have died during the night, or early in the morning, and their bodies were removed by Daisy as is normal in such circumstances.

It is over an hour before Daisy visits the nest box.  She did not appear to bring any food with her.

After a bit if digging around at the bottom of the nest cup she settles herself down on it, to all intents and purposes as though it was still full of her chicks!

After a bit more digging, she suddenly comes up with a dead chick which she immediately removes from the nest box.

This leaves the last chick in the bottom of the nest.  It is still just alive at this stage as it could be seen occasionally twitching.

Daisy returns fairly soon and pokes around in the bottom of the nest.  Again, it doesn't appear that she brought any food with her.

She then settles herself down again, as though there was nothing wrong.

Perhaps the enormity of the situation is beyond her ability to cope with.

She stays like that for several minutes.

Then, suddenly, she dives down to the bottom of the nest and brings up the body of the last chick.  This seems to be still alive, although not very active, as I could see it wriggling a bit in her beak ...

 ... as she takes it to the nest box hole ...

 ... and flies out with it. 

Just over a minute later she returns and settles herself down on the nest cup.  Does she think she is still incubating the last egg?  Or is she just totally confused about this situation for which her instincts do not appear to have prepared her?

After a few minutes she gets off the nest and after a few seconds gazing out of the nest box hole, she leaves.

An hour and a half later she comes back to the nest box for the last time, and vainly seems to be searching for something - another chick perhaps? - at the bottom of the nest.  She then leaves, presumably for the last time.