Five birds that never were

Two families of blue tits set up camp in our sparrow terrace this Spring. Each day we watched them come and go with beaks full of nesting materials. I had visions of a garden full of fluffy chicks! By the time Summer arrived they were nowhere to be seen. Weeks past; we knew the nests had been abandoned and they were gone for good.

The breeding season ended so I cleaned the nestbox out. Last year I found a dead chick in our single box and was half expecting this to be the reason the blue tits left this year. I tentatively unscrewed the lid to find this…

Blue tits eggs in bird box

Sparrow terrace nestbox

Two perfect little nests!! Complete with eggs! You can imagine my joy after expecting something gruesome. I took a few photos inside the box and carefully transferred the nests and eggs onto a piece of newspaper to shoot some closeups.

Blue tit nest in bird box

Blue tit nest

Blue tit eggs in moss nest

Blue tit eggs in nest

Blue tit eggs in nest

Eggs in nest

Blue tit eggs are so tiny; no larger than my thumbnail. All of them were cold though. Part of me hoped they’d still be warm and we could incubate them. Had they had hatched, I have no idea what we would have done with them especially as someone would have needed to regurgitate worms in their mouths.

Tiny blue tit egg

Handful of blue tit eggs

Markings on blue tit egg

Keeping unhatched eggs is illegal so I had to get rid of them straight away. Bit of a shame but I’m not sure what I would have done with them anyway.

Closeup of nest materials

Blue tit nest

Fine feather in nest

Feather in nest

Closeup of nesting materials

Nesting materials

The nesting material was incredibly soft. A woven mass of straw, dried grass, horse hair, moss and feathers. Freshly hatched chicks would have been very happy here I think.

They put so much effort into making these nests and laying their eggs, I couldn’t understand them leaving. But having thought about it, I think it could be down to threat from the crows or sterile eggs.

Tiny bird eggs

Although it was amazing to see two perfectly formed nests with eggs, hopefully next time I open this box it will be empty and we will have provided a home for a new family of blue tits.

Nestbox information

The nests of most birds harbour fleas and other parasites, which remain to infest young birds that hatch the following year. We recommend that old nests be removed in the autumn, from August onwards once the birds have stopped using the box.

Sources: RSPB Cleaning nestboxes

* The RPSB website states that you can clean nestboxes outside the breeding season (between 1st August and 31st January). You can legally remove unhatched eggs between 1st August and 31st January but you must throw them away.

13 Comments

  1. The eggs are beautiful and amazing to see how tiny they are. It’s a little bit heartbreaking thinking they never had a chance to hatch and fly.

    • I think so too. Maybe we will have more luck next year 🙂 We only put this box up early Spring, so it’s nice they moved in so quickly.

  2. some interesting things I never knew about disposing of unhatched eggs and clearing the boxes at certain times of the year, thanks for sharing

  3. Aw! They are so tiny! I don’t think I’ve ever seen blue tit eggs before. What a treat to find the nests – close call on regurgitating worms though 😉
    Job for tomorrow – clean out our nestbox!

    Thanks for joining in Bacon Face 🙂

    • Me either and the only bird eggs I’ve ever seen up close have been those that have fallen out of nests on walks. I was surprised by how small they were, especially when I thought the about the size of the blue tit fledglings I’ve seen in the past.

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