Worried about fledging blue tits

Hi,

I am almost completely bird illiterate so sorry if the following makes no sense...

We have a beautiful nest of blue tits between our living room window and the outside shutter. It’s been amazing to watch them grow up on the other side of the glass. We obviously haven’t opened the window or shutter but we have had the inside light on. Recently the chicks, who are really getting quite big now, keep hopping up onto the window and looking in at us as if they want to jump off the edge but the edge is glass so doesn’t exist. When we realised this we turned all the lights off in the hope that they would focus instead on the little hole that their parents squeeze in through to come and feed them. We watched from outside and they did seem to be coming close to the hole, but our worry is whether they will actually fit through and that there is no ledge space for them to stand on if they do, so will they fall and be hurt (the room is ground floor and it’s a window sill but still - can they get hurt?!). Their parents really have to wiggle and squish themselves sideways to get through the hole and when they come out they fly straight off. The obvious intrusive solution is for us to somehow open the shutter a crack for them, but this would involve opening the window first and would almost certainly disturb them. But the thought of letting them all starve in there would be too much for us. We’d love any advice that can be offered!

Thank you

Gemma

  • Hi Gemma, This is a difficult one to answer without seeing the actual shutter/window/nesting area.

    Firstly, there is no worry about having to have a ledge for the birds to perch on once they fledge as they normally head towards their parents who will be coaxing them out of the nest when they are ready to go and they will head for a nearby twig/branch/shrub, etc., the fledglings are all different.... some fly straight up to a twig on their first flight, others tend to head downwards as if finding their new wings so a tentative time for the youngsters and leaving the safety of their nesting site for the first time. Parent birds are close by as they will continue to feed them for at least two weeks by which time they will become independent. The parent birds will be flying back and forth most of the day bringing in food to their growing offspring and will fly straight out and off again to find more insects for them.

    Regarding the shutter: from what I read from your description, if the adults are really having a tight squeeze to fit in through the small hole in the shutter to feed them and having to wriggle through then the young nestlings might have trouble leaving their nest. I would probably wait until I see the first youngster attempting to leave the nest and see how it fares as the fluffy feather coverage can make the chicks look a lot larger than they actually are. It sounds as if they are close to leaving the nest so keep your eye on it as the parent will eventually withdraw from bringing in food to the nest and will be waiting nearby to coax them out with a food treat. The nestlings will hop up to the hole in the shutter and hopefully start to leave one by one and join their parents nearby. If you think they are struggling to get out then you will have no alternative but to open the window just enough to ease the outer shutter open a tiny bit more - not too much or predators could access the nest.

    Maybe other more experienced forum members can advise you better; as I say, without seeing the actual area concerned I have to try imagine what you have described and offer an opinion. Normally, we would never interfere with a nesting site unless there was an obvious problem so keep your eye on the close to fledging chicks and you may be surprised to find they can all fledge successfully through the small hole. Good luck and let us know how you get on.

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    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Hi Hazel,

    Thanks so much for your reply - this is really helpful. Will keep a close eye on them and try to look out for signs of the fledging scenario you have described. I will let you know how they get on!

    Thanks again

    Gemma
  • You're most welcome Gemma, hopefully the well fed chicks will be able to fledge successfully but if you see them keep trying to leave and the gap seems too small then you will have no choice but to open the window a tad and ease the shutter slightly more open. The nestlings won't be fussed by it but the parents will be keeping a beady eye on you ! Good luck.

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • So today was fledging day!! We found 3 chicks outside in various spots chirping away with 4 left in the nest. We watched for quite a while and eventually felt that the 4 left were definitely trying and failing to get out. The first ones will have had the benefit of the others’ heads to stand on for leverage. So we carefully opened the shutter a crack and over the next hour or so all 4 made their way out and flew off. One even came and joined us on the table for a while. Given that they have grown up with us all so close by, they may turn out to be the tamest ever blue tits!

    After looking in the empty nest it looks like 3 didn’t make it and died at some point in the last week or so. But 7/10 seems a pretty good survival rate.

    Thanks again for your advice.

    Gemma
  • Hi Gemma, so pleased to hear that 7 out of 10 nestlings fledged and survived with a little help from yourself so very well done. It's not a bad statistic having 7 fledge and it will be easier for the parent birds to continue to feed them for the next two weeks or so before they become totally independent. Hopefully you will be able to enjoy the activity around your garden area as the parents help feed the new fledglings so enjoy and thank you for the update.

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again"