The Bird Box Diary

Egg Laying - 2002

Go to last entry........................................Go to previous entry

12 April - The first egg is laid.

The female's arrival at 5.49am, while it was still dark out side heralded a step forward this morning.

As soon as she arrived, she settled down in the nest cup. Perhaps settled isn't the correct word, as she constantly rotated around, making adjustments to the nesting beneath her and just a few times, tucking her head under her wing.

By 6.11am she had settled in one position, and as it got lighter outside she became very still. a minute later she started to raise her rear end and make clicking sounds.


A lot of straining was obvious as she went through the moments of 'labour' until the egg suddenly dropped into the cup at 6.13am. The pictures above shows the moments before and after delivery, with the moist egg glistening in the infra-red light.


She remained in her raised posture for about a minute before she settled again and spent time head down in the nest. There was then a period of rest before she left the box at 6.24am, her early morning's work done.



During the day I saw several visits during which she brought in more nesting, although there were also numerous inspection visits, like this one, caught by the webcam at lunchtime.



She was settled in the box quite early this evening (7.02pm). This webcam image shows her just about to receive food from her partner. Sod's Law meant that I had switched the webcam from the wide-angle to the close-up camera just before he entered.


The video recording gives the wide-angle view of the same moment as the male offers the food to her.

From now on until all eggs are laid, I shall be recording the early morning images from both cameras.




13 April - Egg #2 This morning after peaceful night our BT woke up around 5.43am. She spent the next eight minutes shuffling about, turning the egg and tending to the sides of the nest cup until she stopped moving about at 5.51am.

By 5.53am she became very still and her breathing became heavier. A minute later the male started singing in the tree just outside the box, falling silent just before 5.56, when his partner started to raise her body up out of the nest cup. She started to make clicking sounds, each one corresponding to a contraction. At 5.57am, the fifteenth contraction saw the egg being laid. The picture shows her at the moment the egg 'landed'.



She remained in this raised position for about two minutes before she relaxed and settled back down onto the eggs. After a bit of shuffling and egg turning ( pictured here) she rested, sometimes with head under wing, until 6.10am when she left the nest.

When she returned a little bit later, the eggs were covered with a feather.

I didn't watch (or record) through the morning, but this afternoon was quite interesting. She had two sessions of nest building, sometimes bringing in comparatively large amounts. In one half-hour session just after 3pm she brought straw and moss in seven times.

As she brought in one piece of moss the male called from outside. She hurriedly dropped the moss, arched her back, pointed her open beak skyward and vibrated her wings. He came in with a mealworm which she took immediately.


She had another building session around 5-5.40pm. This time it was feathers and moss - I watched her tug furiously at a piece of moss at the side of the small pond.

There was a gap of nearly an hour before her next, brief entrance at 6.35pm. This was followed by a longer fourteen minute stay at 6.41pm, and then she finally entered for the night at 7.17pm.

I put in a clean sheet of glass this evening.


14 April - Egg #3 Activity started by 5.30am this morning as mum started to stir from her sleep and began to shuffle about in the nest cup. Ocassionally she would pull a feather down from one of the heaps that have formed to the sides of the nest. These seem to act as reserves that she uses to pad out the nest cup as it is gradually compressed.

At 5.38am the male called from the Birch tree and moments later appeared briefly at the entrance. He continued to sing for the next few minutes. In the meantime his partner continued to shuffle about.

By 5.47am she ended up facing almost South (as she had the last two mornings) and she became still, with tail held high and head low. Heavy breathing followed and, as the male restarted his calling (and came to the entrance again) the clicking started, her body raised up, and the third egg was laid at 5.49am. It was a less laboured event this morning.

Afterwards, her rest period lasted until 6am when she pulled down a couple more feathers, waddled across to the entrance to look out, and after a quick glance back left the box at 6.02am.

Unfortunately, last night my senses failed me and as a result both videos recorded the view from the wide-angle camera, so no close-ups of the egg laying are possible this morning. I shall be rewiring the video set-up to prevent this mistake from being repeated!

Luckily, the webcam image around 10am did allow a peek through the feathers to see the three eggs, as this cropped image shows.



15 April - Egg #4 The song of the Blackbird could be heard soon after 5am this morning, but it wasn't until 5.20am that our Blue Tit started to move about, just as the Sparrows began to twitter.

After turning and fiddling with the sides of the nest cup she became still by 5.31am (facing SE this time), with her tail up against the glass. After a minute like this her body started rising up, I think, eight contractions (and clicks) later the fourth egg was laid. The picture shows the moment as the egg emerged.


It was two minutes later that her partner first called from the Birch tree and with a crash that startled her arrived at the entrance to peep in. He returned to the tree to sing for the next two minutes as she first paused in her raised position for a minute, tended to the eggs and then settled for a rest.

Now it was starting to get light outside, and with the male was still singing nearby there was the sound of a couple of ducks ( probably from the Brickfields Country Park) circling overhead.

At 5.47am she moved off the eggs to stand near the entrance for a short time, giving a clear view of the eggs before settling back on them for another five minutes before leaving the box at 5.56am.

At 8am the eggs were still visible on the webcam, but around 9am she found a supply of feathers very close by and now the eggs are all but hidden from view.

She seemed to be getting the feathers from the lot of the Ivy tree, and they included small flight feathers. I may peep into the box later to see what colour they are.


As I write this she has just entered the nest with another feather. An interesting feature of each entry to the box is the little chirp she gives (when there is something in her beak). Later, when the eggs hatch this will be the signal for the chicks to raise their heads and open their mouths ready to be fed.


16 April - Egg #5 This morning the first signs of stiring in the nest were seen at 5.05am, although she soon put her head down again. Her partner made his first appearance at 5.22am, two minutes after starting to sing just outsde the box. He did not enter, but stayed at the entrance for two minutes. The picture shows him looking in out of the dark into what was an almost as dark box. The female was not impressed and put her head back under her wing.

Before 5am she was breathing at around 90-95 breaths/minute. However, around 5.30am the rate had risen to around 160b/m. The male appeared again at 5.32am but it was not until she settled down facing the camera (West) that she went into the egg laying sequence at 5.36am. Stillness, followed by the rising of her body and a series of twelve clicks (contractions) preceeded the egg being laid at 5.38am.

As the first signs of dawn started to show through the entrance she attended to the eggs, generally shuffled about and rested until 5.45am when she pulled feathers down into the cup from the piles at the sides of the box. After pushing these down into the cup and resting a couple more minutes she left at 5.56am.

Since then she has made a number of visits to the nest, bringing in more feathers and straw, making sure that we have not even had a glimpse of the five eggs this morning.


17 April - Egg #6 was laid at 5.44am this morning.

This morning's events started around 5.05am when the Blackbird started singing. The Sparrows started at 5.15am, a minute before the male Blue Tit started singing just outside the box. He appeared at the entrance briefly, but his partner didn't show much enthusiasm.

At 5.43am she became still, facing South-East and we had a good view of the egg being laid at 5.45am. After the usual pause and rest she started to pull feathers down into the nest cup around 6am and left a minute later.


In the last couple of days I've seen the male feeding his partner a number of times, both in the box and in the surrounding trees. He was in the box with a mealworm just before 6pm and again five minutes later, as captured by the webcam (right). Before he arrived the female had been calling, almost continuously for a couple of minutes.

The webcam shows something hanging down on the left side of the image. This is a bit of straw that has somehow been caught up in a spider's web high up in the box.


18 April - Egg #7 was delivered at 5.38am.

With the Dawn chorus well under way before 5.15am our BT mum started to become active around 5.18am. Her breathing increased quickly from a rate of just under 100 breaths/minute while asleep to over 150br/m, a rate maintained until after egg laying.

The male was later this morning, first call heard at 5.33am and again at 5.37am (but remaining unseen), just as his partner started to go into the last stages of egg laying labour. This time she was facing towards the camera (West).

After the usual minute's pause, she tended to the eggs and then rested until she started to tuck feathers down into the nest cup at 5.55am. Two minutes later she climbed wearily(?) out of the nest cup, staggered to the entrance (picture) and left.

In the late morning she spent a long time sitting on the eggs. Later in the day only occasional visits were made, with nesting material continuing to be brought in. She was back in the box for the night before 7pm.


19 April - Egg #8 Delivery a few minutes earlier, at 5.35am.

Our BT did not stir until after 5.25am this morning. Her breathing rate increased quickly but she remained 'snuggled down until after 5.30am. Her partner arrived at the Birch tree for a brief call at 5.26am and again at 5.32am, as she went into her egg laying posture (facing West). He did not come to the entrance.

After she had laid the egg the minute's pause was followed by a lot of attention to the eggs and the nest cup before she rested again. At 5.50am she climbed out of the cup, stood at the side of the nest, looking very unsteady, and then flopped back down again. After a pause she suddenly got up and headed for the exit, leaving the box at 5.53am.

The picture gives a tantalizingly brief view (just about!) of the eight eggs as she gets ready to leave.



Mum spent quite a bit of time sitting on the eggs during the late morning. She has been fed several times - usually she calls, and the male flies down to the mealworms, selects one, prepares it (removes head and digestive tract), and then flies to the box to present it.



He is not always prompt in his response and this gives us a chance (as this 12.04pm webcam image shows) to see the eggs uncovered as mum goes out to get her own food.

I haven't gone through the videos recorded through the day, but it has been obvious that she has started to incubate the eggs. She is safely tucked up in there tonight, and it will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow morning.


20 April - Egg #9 (Perhaps!) A relatively quiet start this morning, with the male not being heard until 5.30am and then not very near. His partner slept on for another five minutes before becoming a bit active, fiddling with the eggs and the sides of the nest cup.

By 5.35am her breathing had risen from a night-time rate of around 97b/m to 120b/m. The male appeared at the entrance at 5.40am without warning (no calls first), looked in and left. Then, at 5.42am she suddenly lifted her body and started to 'click' as she started having contractions. We could not see anything of an egg but there was the normal pause, holding her body in the raised position before she had a busy few minutes tending to the eggs. We replayed the video sequence several times to be sure, and there was the definite sound of egg hitting egg as she had the final contraction.

She rested between 5.49am and the time she got up and left at 6.01am.

When she left only seven of the eggs could be seen and by 6.45am they were all completely covered as she made a number of visits, bringing feathers.

The picture shows the nest cup as I write this at 8.54am, and she has just brought in yet another small feather!



At 9am, I've only just been down to turn on the daytime lighting in the box. In passing, I had a look at the spot where there was a Sparrowhawk kill two days ago. There are very few feathers left there now. Even that event has provided benefits for other birds. I wonder if it has been utilised by our BT.

Up to lunchtime there have been no further opportunities to count eggs (just too many feathers).

A short time ago the webcam captured this moment as the male 'handed over' a mealworm to his partner.


2002 Bird Box Diary Index............Last Month.....e.. IIncubation......... IHatching