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Monday, 30 May 2011

Some go, some come...

...and some remain with many questions unanswered....

The curious observer might have noticed that the young Tree Sparrows left the nest. To be exact they left at around 11 am on the 24th of May. The Blue Tits in NB-3 left between 7:30 and 11 am on the 26th of May.

After the Tree Sparrows left, I thought I should remove the nest (I had read something along the lines: remove the nest due to potential flees etc.) and so I removed it. On second thoughts, however decided to reinsert the nest. Considering effort which had gone into building it, I thought, that perhaps the sparrows would not want to build a second one. And so I reinserted the nest. I agree, it is not really a non-interference policy which I am following. It is difficult to decide what is best and given that observing them is already interference per se, given that building a house which removes natural reproduction areas and living in said house is also interference, I no longer know if it is at all non-hypocritical to say: observe is not interference but intervention is interference.

I am digressing.

At any rate I reinserted the nest and well today there have been visits. I have not yet been able to establish the nature of the visitor, but will be able to do so later.

Interestingly enough after the Tree Sparrows left, they were gone. Completely gone. I have not yet seen another Tree Sparrow since they left. I wonder where they are. I wonder if the parents led the young ones to feeding grounds in the fields, or in the woods, or near the river. I have no idea. The Great Tits last year could still be seen after 1 month of their leaving the nest. The differences between the species are intriguing!

I will be posting some videos of both the Tree Sparrows and Blue Tits in the next couple of days.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Courage of Jumping into Emptiness

It is really funny to observe how the young birds prepare to depart. It is an amazing process.

One birdy hangs with half its body outside of the nesting box, the other half in the warmth of the box, waiting impatiently for an adult bird to come along and bring food. The desire to fly out is present but the missing courage to jump into emptiness is palpable. And thus the birdy waits for just one more round of feeding. Each time the excitement increases and the tiny feathered body slips just a couple millimeters further out of the box. In the meantime, in the back the excitement also grows as the remaining birdies unable to look out and be feed chirp incessently. Some test their wings other sinply hop about pushing whilst waiting in line for their turn at the entrance hole. The tension grows. The birdy slips one more time, a parent comes by bringing food taunting it to fly out. The birdy streches itself towards the parent. A few more millimeters of fragile birdy body hang out of the box, and then fear, it quickly pulls back.

The next birdy in line immediately hops foward and fills the hole but with only its head showing and it all starts over again millimeter by millimeter until the excitement is just too much to bare for just one young tiny birdy.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Pre-Departure Commotion?

18:59: I think the hatchling are almost ready to leave the nest.
I have the feeling that they are being invited by one (or both parents) to leave the warm and comfort of the nesting box. The parent bird flies to the entrance of the box and then flies away again. Sometimes it has a worm in its beak. The hatchlings are really active and are continously chirping. I wonder if the hatchlings will leave tonight or not. Last year the Great Tits left at 8 pm so it is not too late yet.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Sparrow Photos

It is now 21:16 and the hatchlings made their way by themselves back into the dome-protected nest. The mother Sparrow has not yet shown herself. Last night she slept near the nest but still within the nesting box. I wonder now whether something has happened to her or whether she now, given the size of the hatchlings, no longer sleeps in the nesting box (which is though suprising since there is enough space). In addition, I noticed, that the frequency with which the hathclings were fed this evening was quite low. I really hope nothings has happened.

Growing Fast

The four Sparrow hathclings are growing incredibly fast! In the last couple of days, the four occupy the outer spaces of the nest and no longer wait in the dome-protected nest area for the parents to arrive with food. In the semi-"live" stream it thus frequently happens that the image appears to be filled with a bird-body.

Yesterday, one hungry hatchling waiting...

and demanding...

Today, hatchling-traffic at nest entrance:

I image that they will be soon 2 weeks old. I hope they fly out when I am at home.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Four Very Hungry Tree Sparrow Hatchlings

Four starving hatchlings have wide open eyes and are starting to become very active....

Here is an image sequence and a video from one of the many times the hathclings were fed today.

The hatchlings are starting to have well defined feathers on their wings but still lack the fluffy plumage which will keep them warm once they leave the nest.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Eurasian Tree Sparrows: Interesting Wiki-Facts

According to Wikipedia: "The untidy nest is composed of hay, grass, wool or other material and lined with feathers, which improve the thermal insulation. A complete nest consists of three layers; base, lining and dome. The typical clutch is five or six eggs, white to pale grey and heavily marked with spots, small blotches, or speckling; they are 20 x 14 mm in size and weigh 2.1 g, of which 7% is shell. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 12–13 days before the altricial, naked chicks hatch, and a further 15–18 days elapse before they fledge. Two or three broods may be raised each year; birds breeding in colonies produce more eggs and fledglings from their first broods than solitary pairs, but the reverse is true for second and third clutches. Females which copulate frequently tend to lay more eggs and have a shorter incubation time, so within-pair mating may be an indicator of the pairs' reproductive ability. There is a significant level of promiscuity; in a Hungarian study, more than 9% of chicks were sired by extra-pair males, and 20% of the broods contained at least one extra-pair young."

In my opinion the nest is not untidy, actually. I can confirm the three layers though. I can also confirm that both parents incubated the eggs. 15-18 days is quite a short period (it is ca. 3 weeks, i.e. 18-21 days with Tit hathclings). I cannot say how many eggs there were. I wonder if there will be a second clutch.

I found a couple of papers on Eurasian Tree Sparrows, so I might have some more to report soon.

Here some interesting links:

Friday, 13 May 2011

Eurasian Tree Sparrow Hatchlings!

There are at least 2 hatchlings in NB-1! I am so beyond happy, as I managed to catch a good glimpse of the two hungry hatchlings this afteroon. My last minute adaptations, i.e. side camera addition post-nest-building-completion, seem to have been successfull, and although I was not able to follow the egg laying process and the brooding in detail, I will be able to see the hatchlings develop afterall!

I guess the worm-transport last Sunday was already part of the feeding. By looking at the live stream they appear to be ca. 1.5 week old. However, the eyes are not open yet and they do not have many feathers on their heads. I heard chirping on Monday evening for the first time. I thus assumed that the eggs had hatched on Monday. If indeed there are only 2 hatchlings, these will grow (and will have grown) much faster than the 7+ Blue/Great Tit hatchlings. It takes Tit hatchlings ca. 3 weeks before they leave the nest, I am curious to see how long before the Sparrows take flight.


At work on Wednesday there were still 8 hatchlings alive though 2 were quite a bit smaller. I wish I could see how they are coming along. I hope they are still all there on Monday.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Hatched Sparrows and 8 Blue Tits

On Friday when I left the office, there were still 8 Blue Tit hatchlings in NB-3. Two of them were quite a bit smaller than the others, but I hope they will make it through. One egg remains unhatched.

In NB-1, to my surprise, on Monday afternoon I heard tiny high-pitched chirping. I wonder when they hatched, I wonder how many they are. At any rate, both parents are quite busy with bringing food to the hatchlings. I caught a glimpse of one earlier today. They still appear to be featherless. So I suppose that they are less than one week old. However, they are quite noisy compared to the Tit hatchlings, which might lead one to think that they are older than they really are.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Worm Transport into NB-1

09:46 am: One of the Tree Sparrows was inside the nest, the other flew to the entrance hole chirped and then flew to the tree. After some seconds, the Sparrow inside the nest left the nesting box. The second Sparrow flew to the nesting box and waited at the nesting box entrance hole with a big fat worm in its beak. It chirped a couple of times, looked around, chirped again and then flew in. So....? Was the male wanting to feed the female? Or was it the other way around? Or was it the male taking with himself a big fat worm to feed on whilst on duty in the nest, or was it the female? Or was it one of the parents just wanting to feed hatchlings? I do not think it is the latter, due to the fact that once in the nest the bird settled really quickly, no sound was/is to be heard and the feeding frequency seems to be too low, but perhaps I just missed a few.

09:52 am: The bird leaves the nest (flew into the tree) with no duty-replacement-bird and with nothing in its beak. (Outside temp: ca. 24°C in the sun already, ca. 14°C in the box)

10:00 am: A Sparrow enters the nest with soft nesting material in its beak, fixes a bit and settles in the nest (@ 10:06 still in nest). So no hatchlings.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Tree Sparrow Male-Female Cooperation and Strangeness in NB-4

Unfortunately I am not abel to follow the events which might be unfolding in NB-3 (it being at work).

I have however discovered to my great surprise, that not only do the Tree Sparrows bild the nest together, they also take care of the eggs together. I am unsure as to whether both female and male brood (the nest construction had seriously limited by optical access) but at least they take turns at being in the nest.

I just noticed that one of the Tree Sparrows entered the nesting box, chirped, there was then a serious chirp-conversation and then the bird in the nest left to be replaced by the other that had just entered. This second bird then gave one quick peak out of the nesting box and then returned to the nest.

What I find really funny is that when it entered the nest and adjusted itself, it chirped a bit until it had settled. Sparrows are indeed completely different to Tits in their behaviour both as individual birds as well as in pairs. They are definitely more "outspoken".

Now a little update in NB-4: the female Great Tit spends her days in the nest. I am not sure what is going on, and I wonder if for some reason she is unable to lay eggs. I cannot image that she is simply the whole time just sitting there, guarding and empty nest. Then again, there might be the possibility that she had indeed laid eggs and that these are incredible well hidden. This would however surpise me because it would imply that she broods without uncovering the eggs, which is altogether very strange. Her first night in the box was the 22nd of April and by now she should have laid more than enough eggs really. If I assume 10 eggs, this would lead to the 2-3rd of May, so in theory she would now be in her 3rd day of brooding. The male Great Tit still feeds her regularly. I am curious as to how this will all evolve.

It was about 8:15 when I noticed the Tree Sparrows switching places. At 8:32 they switched again. Now again, I wonder: on the 26th of April, one of the Sparrows, spent the first night in the nest (I presume the female, but I may be 50% wrong! which is a huge error range in my books :-)) now again: on the 26th the first egg might have been laid, by now there should be a sufficient number of eggs in NB-1. Given this switching, I presume that now brooding has indeed begun. Previously, I had noticed that there were gaps of time in which no bird was in the nest. If this is so, i.e. brodding, then (assuming ca. 8 eggs) then brooding has started ca. 3-4 days ago and thus there are still 2.5 weeks to go until I hear tiny high-pitched chirping.

One this is sure: I am going to have to conceive a new nesting-box concept with which I am easily move my camera(s) around (perhaps finger cameras?). I am thinking hard already. As soon as the season is over and the birds have left (such that I have gathered enough information to know how the different phases: nest building/egg laying/brodding/hatchlings, modify my optical access requirements) I will start developing version 3 of the nesting box.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Food Priorities

16:50 pm: the male seems to be enyoing feeding the hatchlings himself. He entered the nesting box with a tiny worm whilst the female was inside. She asked that the worm be given to her. The male clearly did not want to comply and he simply left the nest. He flew to the tree nearby and waited. After a couple of seconds he returned. The female was at the entrance hole so he left again. After the female left he entered the nest and fed the hatchlings himself.

5th Hatchling....

16:23 pm: I noticed a hole in a 5th egg.....the 5th hatchling is on its way!

4th hatchling!

13:46 pm: 4th hatchling. The female helped it hatch and then removed the egg shell from the nest.

4th hatchling -> 3rd hatchling!

13:28 pm: another egg has just cracked open along the middle line. So the fourth hatchling has now become the third to come out! The 4th with the hole is still struggling. I wonder how the come free. I have the feeling that if the egg cracks along the middle-line it is a much faster process in comparison to the hole-process. The female has just carried out one half of the egg shell.

3rd Hatchling still "hatching"

13:22 pm: The male Blue Tit entered the nesting box and fed one of the two hatchlings. He then noticed the hole in the 3rd egg and inspected it carefully. He remained in the nest and observed the hatchlings until the female returned at which point he left to get a worm. The hole in the 3rd egg is now larger. It has been at least 2 hours now. With the last hatchlings it took at least 3 hours before it had freed itself from the egg shell. The hatchlings can be heard: a tiny high pitched chirping. The male again entered the nest after the female left. I wonder if this is his first batch of hatchlings. He seems to be a bit unexperienced and he takes enormous care at making sure that his feet are outside of the inner nest where the hatchlings are. The difference in behaviour between the male and female is significant. Fascinating!!

3rd Blue Tit Hatchling!

12:07: #2 hatched ca. 30-40 minutes ago. There is a hole in a 3rd egg, so there will be 3 soon...!!! :-)))

12:10 pm: The female Blue Tit returned, noticed the hole and pecked a bit at the egg.

Mother Warmth

10:13 am: the Mom Blue Tit left the nest again a couple of times to feed the 1st hatchling. When she returned the 3rd time the hatchling did not respond to the extended feeding calls so she ate the mini-worm herself. She then sat on the eggs and hatchlings. The Papa Blue Tit came by just seconds after with a worm and chirped to signilise that he was there. The female responded but did not get up. He left, flew to the tree and then after a couple of seconds flew back and again chirped. Again she did not get up. He again flew away and flew back but again she did not get up. He then left. So..., the female knows that she must not get up and let the hatchling cool down too much even if food is awaiting. Fascinating!

10:18 am: After 5 minutes of warming up, the female Blue Tit had just left. I see her flying around in the tree near by looking behind leaves and such..

10:19 am: the male has just fed the female in the tree.

10:20 am: the male flew to the entrance chriped but left. For some reason he does not enter the box. I wonder if the entrance hole is too small.

10:21 am: the female returns, enters. the male returns to entrance hole. The female inside has a small worm in her beak. The male at the entrance a larger worm and calls to her. The female is now torn between feeding the hatchling and taking the worm from the male. He notices that something is amiss and enters. She hesitates and then hatchling lifts its head and opens its beak. The female feeds the hatchling and then takes the larger worm from the male. She eats it herself. He leaves. Somehow the male always pulls on the worms when the female tries to take them from him. This is new of this morning. I wonder if he wants to feed the hatchlings or whether they pull at the worm in the attempt at making it smaller. At any rate, I am impressed as he does not eat the worm himself when he does not manage to give it to the female (even after several attempts).

Hatchling Support

8:01 am: Mom Blue Tit left the nest again and fed the 1st hatchling 2 more times in the last 20 minutes.She also pecked a bit at the cracked egg. But only a bit and then sat again on the eggs and hatchling.

8:05 am: The male Blue Tit called to the female. He flew to the entrance of the nesting box and gave her a worm. It was a bit big and he was pulling at it whilst she was taking it from her. She took it and then tried to reduce its size. She then ate it herself.

Blue Tits Hatch-ed/-ing!!!!

In NB-3 the eggs are hatching!!!!

This morning when I came in...(5 minutes ago ca. 7:30), I saw the first hatching (so tiny!!) and I noticed that a second egg was cracked!

I am so exicted!!!!

Mom Blue Tit left the nest once since I arrived to get a mini-worm to feed to the first hatchling. She had to call to it a couple of times before it opened it beak to be fed.

The temperatures are really low (about 6°C) and thus Mom Blue Tit continues brooding the unhatched eggs and warms up the 1st hatchling (which would otherwise die).

I will post as the others hatch!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Nest-Guarding rather than Brooding...

I guess I was wrong: in NB-1 and NB-4 brodding hast not begung yet.

The misleading factor: both females spend a significant amount of time in the nest. More than I had witnessed last year. I wonder if the territorial disputes play a role in this, what appears to me, over-proportionate "nesting" (i.e. just sitting around in the nest).

I have not recently witnessed any more disputes between the Sparrows and the new Great Tit pair. This however does not mean that the tension is not high.

What I am still wondering: are there any eggs at all in NB-1 and NB-4. When I look closely I see none in NB-4 (and of course I cannot see so deep inside the nest in NB-1).

I wonder if:
a) The Great Tit female is guarding an empty nest from (i) Sparrows or (ii) other Great Tits, or if
b) The Great Tit female is guarding the nest and lays eggs and hides them so well that it appears as though none are there

Interestingly enough, the male brings her food quite frequently. I wonder if the male is more aware than I am of what is going on or if he simply feeds the female because she is in the nest and will continue to do so until the hatchlings come. I cannot stop marvelling at the complexity of all of this wonderful process.

If I recall last year, nest building started on the 1st of May and the first egg was laid on the 4th. So if I compare, then theoretically it would not be too late if neither the Sparrow nor Great Tit have not laid eggs yet. However 2 things must not be forgotten:
1) Last year's winter seemed never to end and the temperatures were very low until end of April
2) The Blue Tit female in NB-3 is currently brooding 9 eggs...

I have started a statistics page/section as it seems as though it could be interesting to follow developments over the year and perhaps identify a trend if any.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

x Eggs in y NBs = x*y Future Hatchlings!

What I am sure of: eggs are to be found in all 3 currently occupied NBs (NB-1, NB-3, and NB-4).

What I am unsure of: the total number of eggs in NB-1 and NB-4!

NB-1: Day # 2 of brooding: brooding continues with x eggs. I am 99.99...% sure that brooding has begung. This of course means that Sparrows indded do not sleep in the nest after having laid eggs. This is surprising, as I would have expected that like the Tits the female guards the eggs at night.

NB-2: nothing

NB-3: Day # 5 of brooding: brooding continues with 9 eggs. The male brought food repeated number of times today. Once he even brought a worm which was so big that the female had difficulties in swallowing it and had to "spit" it out.

NB-4: Day # 2 of brooding: brooding continues with x eggs. The Great Tit is amazing at hiding her eggs when she leaves. I believe she does this due to the fact that the Sparrows are nesting close by. I see her moving significant amounts of nesting material to under her belly before she leaves and removing this same material when she returns. Hopefully I will manage to see the eggs soon.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

NB-1 to NB-4 Update.....Brooding has Begun!

Quite a bit has happened during the Eater-weekend. Here is a summary (longish) of the events:

NB-1: I think brooding has is difficult to tell, because as usual the Tree Sparrows are keen and great nest builders that never stop carrying significant amounts of nestning material into the box. Indeed a number of biggish feathers have been brought in. Some are abbandoned half-way into the nest along the entrance corridor. When this happens, the camera is blocked, or semi-blocked. At any rate the female Sparrow (I am guessing) was in the nest for an extensive amount of time this morning, which suggests that she had begun brooding. Unless of course, I was observing her attempts at laying an egg. So far, the Sparrow has not slept in the nest, which suggest one of two things:
1. Sparrows, unlike Tits (both Blue and Great) do not sleep in the nest when they have layed eggs
2. No eggs have been layed so far.

In my night-attempts at clearing the camera-view I also tried to see if there were any eggs in the nest. However, due to the complex construction of the nest, I was unsuccessful (unless of course no eggs were in the nest and thus I saw none).

Another important observation is that yesterday in the late afternoon the Sparrows mated again in the tree next to the nesting box. The mating attempts were 5-6. I am unsure as to how many of these were indeed successfull. I had already witnessed mating some 6-7 days ago. At any rate, mating means fertilising of the egg to come, i.e. the Sparrow female should be laying eggs soon afterwards. As of now the status in the nest remains unclear. When I return home this afternoon I will try to determine if a Sparrow is in the nest, and if not how much time passes before one returns to the nest. During brooding (and depending on the ambient temperature, i.e. if the temperatures are low/medium), the female leaves for only short intervals (longer ones at the beginning) for feeding. Based on the observations I should be able to determine if the Sparrow(s) (indeed I do not know if the Sparrow female alone broods or if both brood) is(are) brooding or if eggs are being layed.

NB-2: Empty (of which I am very happy). Luckly no bird-pair has taken up this nest....there have been more than enough territorial-disputes

NB-3: 9 Eggs, I believe brooding started on the 24th. She appears to have spent some time in the nest on her eggs prior to the 24th but it does not appear to have been brooding.
Egg 6 on the 22nd
Egg 7 on the 23rd
Egg 8 on the 24th

Egg 9 on the 25th

Today the male Blue Tit came repeated to bring her juicy green worms. Sometime she just starts chirping away whilst brooding, I wonder if she is calling to him for food.

The temperatures have been quite high (upper 20s) in the past few days and the temporary sun-roof seems to be helping. I hope however, that the temperatures decrease again (lower 20s). Clouds (partial) would also be good.

I measured temperatures in the nesting box again:
Date & Time | Temperature
2011.04.26 @ 11:28 | < 21.7°C
2011.04.26 @ 13:16 | 25.4°C

NB-4: On the 22nd the Great Tit female started sleeping in the nest, i.e. 1st egg was probably laid on the 22nd. I must check. Today is the 26th, so when being optimistic there could be 5 eggs in the nest as of now. I wonder how many eggs will be layed before brooding starts. Last year the Great Tits layed 12 eggs in NB-1_2010 (smaller than NB-1_2011, i.e. same sort as NB-2 to NB-4). 12 eggs is at the upper end of the range for Great Tits.

I will be posting some pictures in the next couple of days....

Thursday, 21 April 2011

NB-2 and NB-4 Switch

When I got home today I checked the fourth nesting box (NB-4) to see whether Great Tits had decided to build a nest without Sparrow-distruptions.

To my suprise, the nest was in an advanced stage of construction (i.e. with already soft material, i.e. the uppermost layer).

As usual I had an idea: replace NB-4 with NB-2 such that I can follow the developments in NB-4. Indeed nothing has moved/changed in NB-2 since the Sparrow attack.

I proceeded as follows: I removed NB-2 from its position and removed the nest from inside (I had gloves on the whole time, just in case birds can smell). I removed NB-4 from its position, removed the front and removed the nest and placed it in NB-2. I took the front covering of NB-4 and used it to close NB-2. I hung NB-2 where NB-4 hung previously.

Result: I now have a camera in what I will continue to call NB-4.

As for NB-2 I will now proceed hang it up again such that the Sparrows do not get suspicious. I would not want them to start attacking NB-4 due to a missing NB-2.

All very confusing, but I am curious to see if it works. I noticed with NB-3 that the birds do not seem to mind what happens to the outer looks of the nesting box (I added a temporary roof to avoid too much sun from excessively increasing the temperature inside the nesting box). So it should work. My greatest worry are, to be quite honest the very territorial Sparrows.

I will keep the live stream on NB-4 for a couple of days to see how things proceed.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

4 Eggs

Easter will not be egg-less! far there are 4 eggs in NB-3.
I managed to get a snapshot this evening. She has been very deligent at keeping her
eggs hidden!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Continued Attacks...

At about 14:00 whilst the Great Tit female was sitting in NB-2 (nesting box #2) just "relaxing", a Tree Sparrow suddenly entered the nesting box and attacked the female. The fight was brutal and the Sparrow clearly had the upperhand.

I only noticed this later on my display and noticed that the Freat Tit female was perched in the tree in what seemed to be a state of shock. Indeed she was very still, and did not notice what was going on around her. I opened the garden door and whilst the other birds flew away, she remained there without even noticing me. I did not want to distress her further and therefore did not leave the house. She remained in the tree in the very same position for at least 10-15 minutes. It was quite discomforting. In the meantime a Tree Sparrow again entered the nesting box. Some time passed and a Tree Sparrow again entered NB-2. At this point I entered the garden and moving to NB-2 I moved it around it. My intention (though perhaps not very "scientist that does not get involved") was to scare the Sparrow and thus discourage it from again entering the box in the future. It did get scared, that is for sure. From a scientific point of view I am definitely not proud of what I have done, from a maternal point of view I feel that I have done nothing wrong.

The floor of NB-2 is covered in small black feathers, a clear indication of the brutality of the fight which took place in it. The female Great Tit had almost completed the nest as the attack occured. Indeed she had started carrying in the "soft" material used for padding. I wonder how come the Tree Sparrows allowed the Great Tit to get so far with nest building and only just today mounted an attack.

I wonder if the female Great Tit will return, I wonder if the Sparrows will continue with the attacks and I wonder if they will even maybe destroy the eggs should the Great Tit lay any.

Only time will tell. At any rate, at this point in the afternoon, the birds tend to be somewhere else and thus I shall have to wait 'til tomorrow.

Current Situation in the 3 Nesting Boxes

I have been away for a week ca. and therefore unable to keep up-to-date with events.

When I got back yesterday I found out:

1. In the office nesting box (NB-3) 1 egg had been laid. I presume this was laid in the morning of the 16.04.2011. This morning however, the egg was covered, so I could not see if there are 2 by now.

2. In the large nesting box (NB-1) the Tree Sparrows build a nesting by using a large amount of is pretty amazing actually. They covered the entire surface with nesting material and thus brought the floor to a height which is now about 1-2 cm below the entrance hole. The entrance to the nest itself is on the farside of the box. The nest floor is lower than the surrounding floor and the nest is covered on the top. The inner nest volume thus assumes a spherical shape and 3/4ths of its surface area is covered with material.

3. The Great Tit female with the spot on her head (the one that lost the large nesting box to the Sparrows) has started building a nest in the smaller nesting box (NB-2). I am happy that she has taken up this second nesting box.

Due to the fact that the sparrow nest is so complex, and due to the fact that so much material was carried inside the box, 2 of the 3 cameras are completely covered in material and no longer have optical access to the nest. The 3rd camera mounted on the top has a very reduced optical access (less than 1/4th). Last night we therefore (after sunset) made a blitz modification (ca. 1 hour) to the nesting box and added a 4th camera to the box. The camera is mounted from the outside and allows a partial view of the nest. Although I will probably not be able to see how many eggs will be laid, I will hopefully be able to follow the general developments.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

WAR of the Birds....

To my astonishment, the situation changed dramatically yesterday afternoon as a pair of Eurasian Tree Sparrows entered the large nesting box and starting adding nesting material to the already started Great Tit nest.

At around 14:00 the Great Tit female entered the nest whilst a Sparrow was also inside. A fight ensued which was quickly became a fight between all 4 birds. The male Great Tit entered the nest and also attacked the Sparrow.

After a tumoltous fight, the Tits left the nest. A few minutes later, the Tits again entered the nest and again a fight ensued. Again, the Great Tits left the nest.

After a short pause, the Sparrows started, or rather continues building. It thus apeared that the Sparrows had successfully defeated the Great Tits.

Later that evening, I found out that the Sparrows had started building a nest in the second, smaller nesting box. for some reason, the then decided to continue building in the larger box during the noon hours, during which the Great Tit female paused from nest building.

This morning, the fight continued. The Great Tit female entered the nest various times and fixed it without carrying further material inside the nest. It thus appeared that the Great Tits had not given up on the nest.

With both bird pairs perching in the tree next to the box, several disputes were triggered between the two bird pairs. The most interesting aspects of the disputes were that the Sparrows were more united than the Great Tits where the female performed most of the aggressive stances.

The Sparrows entered the box repeatedly whilst the Great Tits were still in the tree and placed themselves such as to block the entrance of the box. Indeed it could have been interpreted as an attempt of the two Sparrows to block the entrance of the box and thus prevent the Tits from entering.

The disputes continued throughtout the morning and into the early afternoon. After that I no longer observed the Great Tits in the tree or in the vicinity of the large nesting box. In the morning, they had briefly examined the smaller box which also triggered a dispute between the two bird species.

I wonder whether the Sparrows have now taken the larger nesting box and will allow other birds to nest in the smaller box or whether their territory extends to include the smaller nesting box. I also wonder whether the Great Tits will again show themselves tomorrow morning, or whether they have moved on to another nesting location.

The female Great Tit had begung building the nest on the 31. of March. What I also noticed was that whilst only the female Great Tit is responsible for nest building, it appears that both Sparrows are involved in nest building.

I wonder, I wonder....

Sunday, 3 April 2011

High Temperatures

I am quite is only the 3rd of April and we have already experienced temperatures in the upper 20s.

Nest building continues at a slow pace.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Rainy Afternoon

Nest Building Has Begun!

In the new advanced, enlarged, improved, sensor equipped, over-kill, nesting box, nest building have finally started!

The Great Tit female with a spot on her head started carrying nesting material inside the box today.

I must check the other nesting box this evening to see whether "building efforts" are being undertaken in there as well...

In the old nesting box which I now hung outside my office window, a Blue Tit pair is busy doing what ever it is they are doing. The female Blue Tit sometimes carries material to the nest. Most of it is dropped before she enters. She spends much time inside the nest. It appears as though it is her first time and she is not quite sure what she should do hence the nervous moving moss-bits around.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

A Twig, the first twig!

Oh dear! I "fear" that the frontal camera will be of fundamental importance this year, hopefully I have placed it at the right position.

Why do I think so?.....have a look...


and who was responsible?.....none other than...

a Eurasian Tree Sparrow! :-)

Monday, 7 March 2011

New Year, new nesting BIRDIES!

I have managed to install one new nesting box so far (one will be installed tomorrow!).

The new nesting box is full of new features:
3 cameras
- 2 are infrared b/w cameras like the one I used last year (but with a 3,6 mm lens instead for an increased field of view!)
- 1 is a colour camera

2 temperature sensors (inside and outside of the box)

1 light intensity sensor which activates and deactivates...

3 LEDs which are on a circuit which can regulate the voltage i.e. the intensity of the LEDs (the LEDs can therefore be automatically turned on during the day and off during the night)

Two cameras are fastened on the "ceiling" of the box, i.e. looking down, while the 3rd camera is installed in the front and looks inside at "bird-eye" level....

So far there have been visits by at least 3 Great Tits: a male...

(the advantage of the frontal camera is that one can see the strips and thus determine if it is a male (wide), or a female (thin))

...a female missing half a leg...

and a female with a white spot on her head

which comes regularly...

and sometimes just hangs in there in the somewhat warmer air..

Some of the close-ups are so good! I installed the frontal camera only later (just in case the sparrows decide to take over and build a nest) and am really happy I did!

One (or two) tree sparrow came in twice and I saw one looking in on Saturday..

but so far the Great Tits have been visiting more frequently.

I took the old nest and installed it just outside my office window. I changed the front plate. The new plate is fitted with a 26 mm hole, i.e. too small for Great Tits. A Blue Tit has shown great interest and today I managed to make a video of it inside...

I sometimes see the Blue Tit busy at fending off other Blue Tits away from the nesting Box. This morning I also "witnessed" a mid-air fight!