Country Corner

Nest box
Nest box

A blue tit watches the world go by from the comfort of a nest box.

If you have not already done so, it is not too late to erect a nest box or two for your own local blue tits, great tits and tree sparrows.

If you have sited it where you can watch from your window, you will witness the incredible number of trips the birds make to gather nesting material.

You can even buy nest boxes these days with a tiny camera fixed to the lid, looking down into the nest and broadcasting live pictures back to your television.

From nest construction to the laying of the first egg, which begins the routine of trying to count the number of eggs each day until the clutch is complete. There is then the long wait as the birds incubate day and night.

Then one day, suddenly, there is a tiny white downed chick with floppy neck and apparently no eyes! Then another as the counting starts again. Birds like blue tits have enormous families. You may start to realise why they do, as inevitably one or two might not make it to fledging.

Sometimes the spring is just not warm enough to produce enough caterpillars and other insects to feed the chicks. Sometimes a cat, sparrowhawk or other predator might snaffle one of the adults or even attack the entire brood.

High drama and intrigue make soap opera veiwing as time goes on. Even if all the chicks do fledge successfully, your nerves will be in tatters as one by one they take that first leap of faith into the big wild world.

Then you’ll try to count them all and reassure yourself that ‘your’ family is ok.

On second thoughts, readers of a nervous disposition might do better not to erect a nest box!