Help! Bluetit chicks have left birdbox and one is left behind

We have seen the bluetits from our birdbox do flight training with their parents. However, one had been left behind in the birdbox. It kept chirping but no parent is coming for at least half a day now. This morning it somehow made it out of the box, but it hasn't really developed to the same extent as the others - it cannot fly and is tiny in comparison. I put it back into the box (without touching), which in hindsight may have been the wrong thing to do :(. I can hear it chirping - presumably requesting to be fed. In truth I have no way if knowing if there's anybody else in the birdbox, but it sounds like a solitary voice and we did see the others fly about with the parents for a few days now. Up to yesterday the parents or one parent used to come back to the box, but they have stopped as of today. The little one doesn't really have developed Wong's yet, but it is fully alert and covered in feathers and manages to produce a good amount of noise! Is there anything we can do to help it? The box is right on our terrace and it's heartbreaking to listen to its chirping. We've been watching the parents for a long time now and they're usually in and out and completely unperturbed by our proximity - they have definitely stopped feeding :(. It's devastating. I know, nature, but still. Seems like there ought to be something we can do? Any suggestions? Live mealworms with their head removed? Food from suet balls? Can it even eat by itself yetwyet a patent stuffing food down its throat? Help! Thanks. Martina. 

  • Hello Martina, although I appreciate you had your heart in the right place and thought you were helping this weak looking tiny chick returning it to the nest box, it was absolutely the wrong thing to do as this chick probably struggled for hours to get out of the nest box following its siblings as the parents would be calling them to fledge. Even a weak chick, once out of the box may stand a reasonable chance of the parents continuing to feed it, however, now it has been placed back in the box the parents are unlikely to tend to it and it will most likely die. The advice is always to never interfere with an active nest box and let nature take its course except in very exceptional circumstances where you would normally have to get permission from the wildlife officer at your local police station to do anything which is contrary the protection afforded by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 law.
    Being a weak chick it possibly wouldn't have survived anyway if it was the "runt" but as it had managed to fledge on its own, even though it wasn't able to fly the parents would most likely have attended to it, hearing its chirping, and even feeding it on the ground. Of course, it would become more of a target for cats or other predators not being able to immediately fly to reasonable height. Once again, I know you had the best of intentions even though it wasn't the best course of action to take.


    Regards, Hazel 

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