The Bird Box Diary

The Chicks' Buildup to Departure

23 & 24 May 2002

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23 May - As I write this (at 7.25am) we have passed the time of the first departure last year, and the chicks are still in the box. Food deliveries are continuing on a bright morning with just a couple of heavy showers so far.

At the moment the chicks are just starting to move around again after a spell huddled in the nest cup. Around 7am they were very active and looked close to making the big step. The picture shows one checking out the view - it soon rejoined the others.


At 10am the chicks are still with us. There have been some moments when I though the exodus would start, such as in this image. The moment soon passed and it returned to the group.




The webcam caught this dramatic moment soon afterwards. Dad had fed a chick from the entrance and then leaned forward to collect a faecal sac (white). He lost his balance and nearly fell onto the chicks.



Around 10.15am there was another check on the world outside.

Inside the box the periodic preening and wing testing continues between brief rest periods and food deliveries.



I decided that it would be safe to visit the box briefly after 11am, only staying a couple of minutes I got a couple of images to include. This first one shows a typical feed from the entrance and all seven chicks (for a change). The quality is a bit off because I decided not to risk changing the glass, which is a bit dusty and marked, and the focusing is slightly off.



The second picture is not for the squeamish! Having fed the chick concerned, dad is now removing a faecal sac from the chick's cloaca.

If you look at the enlarged image you will just make out part of the circle of white feathers that surround the cloaca. There are better pictures of these in the third week's portion of last year's Blue Tit Diary.

Click on these two images to see larger versions

I have just spent a few minutes hosing down the bit of decking under the mealworm feeder. When the parents take away a faecal sac they seem to dump it just before entering the feeder to collect another mealworm.

The chicks remained very active into the evening. I held my breath when one suddenly got up to the entrance at around 8.15pm. Now, at 10.20pm they are spending most of their time with their heads down, although there are periods of restlessness. I cannot see then taking very long to start leaving tomorrow morning.

24 May Fledging Day

24 May - It is a very wet morning here in Aldershot. At 6.36am the chicks are all still in the box although they are very restless.

Wing flapping and preening goes on in bursts of activity. This chick was using its siblings as a launch pad for some more advanced tests of its wings' capabilities.



Feeding is still frequent. In fact there has been queuing at the mealworm feeder as another pair of Blue tit parents have become customers now.



After 7.30am the weather started to ease up a bit as the rain gave way to drizzle just in time for the exodus to begin


The feeding visits gradually decreased and by 7.45am it was obvious that the chicks would not be staying much longer. Here, a chick makes a flying approach to the entrance.




Over the next few minutes excitement levels grew in the box as a second chick flew up to the side, watched closely by the others.



While the entrance was still being blocked by one chick, a second chick started pecking at its underside.




Finally, the first chick to leave leaned forwards and left at 7.59am.




As if uncertain about what had just happened the chicks quickly gathered into a huddled group.




It wasn't long before a second chick was at the door and ready to leave,




followed shortly afterwards by a third fledgling.




A minute later and fledgling #4 was at the exit, although this one needed a helpful shove to set it on its way!



There was a slight pause in the proceedings when a rather wet parent brought in a feed.





As the adult left it was soon followed by fledgling #5.





The last two chicks then had a bit of one-to-one attention from their parents.




A few minutes elapsed before the next chick headed for the door.




As soon as fledgling #6 had gone mum was back in with food for the last chick, which seemed more interested in the glass at the back of the box that heading for the exit.



For quiet a few minutes mum stayed in the box, ignoring the chick and spending her time foraging about in and around the nest cup.





Eventually she decided to leave, and this seemed to point the way for the chick and it headed for the front of the box.



It looked out but still did not go.




Another feed was brought to it before it finally decided that the time had come.




At 8.28am this morning our last chick fledged and brought to an end a process that started with the parents laying claim to the box around Christmas.

Sadly, we lost two chicks on the way, but the rest have left looking healthy and, hopefully with a good start to their all too short lives.



By the time the chicks left the box the weather was already improving and the rain soon gave way to brilliant sunshine. It is quite windy, but there is plenty of shelter for the fledglings in and around the garden.

I spent a bit of time outside once the box was empty. Several of the flegdglings were perched in the Birch tree just outside the box. Here is one of them waiting for a parent.





The leaf cover on the tree obscured the view most of the time, especially as the leaves fluttered in the wind, but I managed to catch this glimpse of a second fledgling getting a feed from dad.

Click on these colour images to see larger versions



Since the chicks' departure there have been numerous visits to the box by the adults, especially the female.

At 2.30pm I have not been able to see any of the youngsters for several hours now. The sunshine has given way to strong, gusty winds, dark clouds with a threat of rain again - there has been hardly any rain since early this morning.


I will be keeping the webcam going for at least the next week just to monitor further visits like this one, and to see if it is used for night-time roosting.

2002 Bird Box Diary Index............

Egg Laying.................bIncubationb..................Hatching ......

.Chicks Week 1...........Chicks Week 2...........Chicks Week 3............After Fledging