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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.