The Bird Box Diary 2004

The Eggs Hatch - May 2004

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1 May - Hatching takes place on schedule


Our female Great Tits started her morning with a trip out at 6.04am, and at that time the eggs were all still intact.





However, at 6.29am she had her head down in the nest cup for some time and its constant movement (not the usual egg turning) suggested something was happening.

Then, when she left the box at 6.32am we caught our first sight of a single chick, although you have to look carefully at the object on the egg in the centre. The 'object' moves between images.



Shortly afterwards we saw the female eating a shell.




When the light came on shortly before 7am it gave us our first clear view of what was obviously a hungry chick.

Notice how its gape appears above the rim of the nest in the main picture.


There was still just the one when she left again at 7.15am. However, when she left at 7.28am a second chick was sighted.


At 7.40am I could see a limb waving out of the end of a third shell, but it wasn't possible to get an usable image of the three chicks until a bit later.

Both parents were active from 7.18am when the male brought an outsized grub just after the female had given one of chicks a small green larva.

This webcam image shows the female holding another large offering as her partner is about to inspect the chicks.



A short time later the female extracted another empty shell form the nest cup and started to eat it.

As she did so her partner arrived, this time with a more sensible sized offering and proceeded to try to feed a chick while she continued to eat the shell.

Eventually he gave up and passed the grub to her - she then passed it onto a chick.



Just after 8am another shell appeared and was quickly eaten by the female.



This was one of those moments when a chick spread itself  and became easier to see.



Here the proud(?) parents inspect their new offspring after dad (on the right) had just brought in a grub.



Yet another shell was eaten at 8.32am,




and I was able to see four chicks when she left the nest at 8.42am.



An update at 10.55am. I could see five chicks now, and as this webcam image shows, the nest cup is not very deep, so when a chick decides to stretch up in hopes of being fed, its head will appear in the main nest picture.



In the afternoon, at 3.17pm this webcam image confirmed the presence of five chicks, although I'm sure that on the video image I could see a sixth one.

There were still two eggs to hatch at that time and I haven't seen any more broken shell appearing since this morning.



2 May - This morning started for our new family when mum headed for the door at 5.45am.





It was only two minutes later that both parents were back in with food for the chicks. These images show the male returning for a second time. Offering the food to his partner first, he then went on to try giving it to one of the chicks.



By yesterday evening at least six of the chicks had hatched, and this morning I looked carefully but couldn't be sure of the chick count. However, I could only see one egg.



It has been very difficult to count the chicks as their pink bodies seem to blend into each other until one of them pops up its head to show its gape. This was a moment when one chick found itself separated from the rest, giving us a better look at it.



It seems that the last chick hatched out this morning, mum devouring the shell at 11.20am. The challenge now is to confirm the chick head count before too many days have past!




During the course of the morning, the temperature climbed from a low of around 4C just before dawn to a high of around 19C just after mid-day. The warm temperatures seemed once again to have the female standing for short periods to the side of the nest, starting just before noon  and going on until nearly 6pm, even though temperatures had fallen quite a bit by then.

In the right hand image you can see water vapour in her breathe condensing on the cold glass.

I am a bit puzzled by her reaction to warmer temperatures. Despite her apparent discomfort, she chose to stay in the box for over two hours.

I haven't tried to count feeding visits today, but the parents do not seem to be in high gear as yet, with quite long gaps between feeds.

As well as bringing food, the parents have to deal with the chicks waste. These two images show a mum is collecting a faecal sac, which she then ate before leaving the box. You will need to look carefully at the mirror image in the large version of the picture.


Here is a late afternoon visit by both parents, who spent time together, inspecting their new, and now complete family (although I still need to confirm the number!).




I have checked through the video recording of the day, up to 6pm (I will complete the job afterwards) and I find that between 5.45am and 6pm the female spent some 475 minutes in the box - about 65% of the day. It will be interesting to see how quickly this percentage will start to drop.

Click on an image to see a larger version of it


2004 Bird Box Diary Index....................................Next - The chicks (p.1)

January to March ................ April Nest building................

Egg laying (p. 1).................. Egg laying (p.2)...................... Incubation.