Tuesday, 7 October 2008

What are birds doing when…

...they are seen going in and out of nestboxes from October to February? They can’t be nesting then can they? Possibly they could be stating their intention to use it in the Spring. Ah... but the blue tits that freely nest in nestboxes also use them to roost in over the winter months. Do you think you have a rooster at the moment and how would you know?

We had a roosting blue tit in our Camera Nestbox from the end of October last year. However, when it came to January we also had a blue tit pair interested in the Nestbox who visiting during the day. Eventually when that female decided to roost in the box (to definitely state her claim to use it for nesting) there was a bit of trouble and the winter rooster was off. So it doesn't mean that a rooster will finally nest in the nestbox.

Last year, as per suggestion by the RSPB, I put some wood shavings on the floor of our camera Nestbox after we cleared away the used nest. Is this really necessary I hear you ask? I guess not although I do plan to add some to our new camera Nestbox soon. What about our Arch Nestbox without a camera? Oh... I don't think I'll bother adding any to it. Can you guess why?

Yep… once again our Arch Nestbox without a camera has the interest of the blue tits. I thought I’d seen a bird go in it during the last couple of weeks but last Friday it was very clear something was going on. But what was this bird doing?


Blue tit October cleaning for roosting, video 2:30 with background music, try 480p quality.


You can see the frequency of the visits in the video above. For those who cannot view my video, I watched it go speedily to the trees and return. In and out the Nestbox it went on this cold windy October day. Wait a minute... I recognised this behaviour. Ah… the penny finally dropped as I watched closer.

This bird had something in its beak and it was going straight to a branch of a tree and dropping it just as I saw during nest building earlier this year. However, it wasn't building a nest - it was clearing away the unused nest! Clever little bird. Okay, so I don’t think I’ll add any wood shavings to this box.

There is no camera in my Arch Nestbox so the only way to confirm my suspicions of a rooster was to set up my video camera outside the entrance in the evening. You would likely miss this if you sat and watched. The time to see this can vary a little but once you see it once you will have a guide when to look – 20 mins either side I’d say.

The first two clips in the film below were taken sometime between 6.25-7.55pm but the last clip was after 7pm probably as it was a warmer night. I didn’t alter the lighting so you can see the differences. So now I would say with three clips showing three consecutive nights of a blue tit going in this nestbox I have confirmation of a rooster there at the moment. I should also add that I captured a fourth night after I edited my film. It's a pity we can't see inside isn't it? We have a side opening in this box and we opened it this morning to see if there was any moss left and all that could be seen was a few bird droppings most likely from the roosting bird.


Night night, video 0:52 with background music & narration, try 480p quality.


In Spring we wanted the enquiring blue tits to choose our Nestbox with a camera so we could see and share what was going on during nesting. However, I still feel that it may be a little early for roosting in my area and it is very likely that another bird might take a look inside it our Camera Nestbox so I am still hopeful. Oops… but what’s this below?

I am delighted to be able to share the first video capture from our new Camera Nestbox and what an interesting piece of film this is – can you guess what is going on? What is the bird doing lying on the floor?


Blue tit inspects camera nestbox, video 2:05 with background music, try 480p quality.


When editing my video clips I do see them again and again so I am at an advantage. I believe it is surprised by the light levels in this Nestbox and it is looking at the ceiling! Why the surprise? Well, I am certain this is the rooster from the Arch Nestbox and it must be a lot darker in there. I found it amusing to watch – you have to wonder what it was thinking. Oh yes… and after the closer inspection of the camera you can see that blue tits are very curious and agile little birds!



My first challenge after seeing this new footage from the camera box (taken on the same day the roosting blue tit cleared out the arch box) was to compare the two birds. Why do I do this? Just simple curiosity I guess – although it does take some time! I grabbed video frames of similar angles of the two birds which you can see above.

I convinced myself that there was a similar dot marking in the two birds as I watched them. However, after final editing of my videos I spotted there was also a misplaced strand of a feather that was common to both so that confirmed it.

Finally, I have to say find this slightly scruffier looking blue tit quite a character and I do hope we see more of it. I am also wondering if it has a mate that will eventually join it to roost in our Arch Nestbox – now that would be interesting to see! Fingers crossed that we will see some action via our Camera Nestbox too and it looks like these two nestboxes will open up extra interest in my garden once again – the stories begin! Enjoy your nestboxes.


The video footage and photos above wer all taken between 3-5th October 2008.

10 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Shirl, it is always delightful to see what is going on in and around your nestboxes.

Have you seen your little hedgehog lately? I wonder how they did this summer.

Joe said...

Hi Shirl,

We also have Blue Tits looking inside our nestbox at the moment but I haven't seen them in the evening yet.

Nice videos. I have also been trying to film them but its difficult because they are so quick.

I hope they end up nesting in your camera nestbox instead of your arch nestbox next year. I feel that I may have the same problem when I get my camera nestbox. Nice identification of the Blue Tit too.

Happy birdwatching, Joe

jodi said...

Shirl, I just had the most fun visiting and looking at a couple of your videos. The little blue tits are so cute--we don't have them here, unless as occasional visitors (I've never seen one). So it's fun to see your adventures with them.

Cheryl said...

Hi Shirl.....I was completely captivated by that....I actually forgot I was on someones blog, I enjoyed it so much....these are wonderful things to share....tku......

shirl said...

Hi again Lisa, Joe, Jodi and Cheryl :-)

Lisa – I’m so glad you enjoy them. Ah the hedgehog visits… I’ve put the night camera out especially for you tonight! The thing is in warmer nights I don’t see them visit as they appear in the early hours. Wet nights (far too many this summer) they don’t seem to be out as much. If they do come they go into my feeding station where they can feed in the dry. Of course the box is covered in rain drops and I cannot see in. So I still put out the food and some nights it isn’t taken – again there are probably more natural food sources at the moment. However, when the colder nights really kick in I am sure I will get lots of sightings as they stock up as much food as possible for hibernation. As soon as I see them I’ll share these visits. I have never seen any hoglets so if any are in my garden they are keeping well hidden – I daren’t open up my hedgehog house just now.

Joe - Excellent, although perhaps it is still early for roosters – last year it was the end of the month before we saw any. It would be great if you got one too. Thanks, I do agree they are so hard to catch on film. Yes, it would be good to see nesting again next year. Fingers crossed for your new camera Nestbox too :-D

Jodi - How nice to have you visit again. So sorry to hear you’ve not been well all summer and you have my best wishes for your pending op. I am delighted that you've had a fun visit and it is great that I can share the visits of the blue tit with you. All the best :-D

Cheryl - Aw… thank-you for that… I am just delighted that I can :-D

Jane said...

I loved the footage of the little bird looking up quizzically inside the new box. Does it have a light? is that why it is lighter? I must go and see if there are anything in mine. It's dark here by 6.30pm now... Jane

Kim said...

I just love your bird posts, especially since we don't have Blue Tits here. It's great fun learning about them and watching them on your videos.

Barbara said...

I regret not having a camera in our nestbox which hopefully will be occupied of bluetits next Spring too. I've just cleaned it from this summer's use. There are a lot of bluetits at the moment flying around or sitting on the elderberry tree...
Enjoy further observations, Shirl!
Barbara

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Awwwwwwww, you've got a little blue rooster and I think that it is trying to figure out what its best side on camera is. ;-) Amuzing vids Shirl, hopefully the little blue rooster will bring you oodles of fun.

shirl said...

Hi again Jane, Kim, Barbara and Yolanda :-)

Jane – It was funny wasn’t it? No, no light, but a special roof to allow natural daylight in. Funnily enough at the moment it isn’t dark here until nearer 7pm. You may find nothing in your box yet. I really think our blue tit rooster is ahead of the game :-D

Kim – I am so glad you enjoyed them. It really is great that through the internet (and blogs especially) that we can see the birds, plants and wildlife from around world. I am delighted that I can share mine :-D

Barbara – That is a shame. Is it not possible in any way that you could add an extension to your box and put a camera in it? Great to hear you’ve so many blue tits. Oh… I will enjoy further observations and hope to share a lot more with you yet ;-D

Yolanda – Oh yes… I would say so! How does it know it is to have a starring role in my garden so very soon? Oh yes… oodles of fun ahead ;-)