Blue Tits. Do they return if one has died close to their nest?

We have a nesting box high off the ground away from predators and have had the pleasure of parents feeding chicks. Unfortunately, this morning a cat had a dead chick in its mouth under the nesting box. No way for the cat to reach the box. No sound of chicks anymore and no sight of the parents. Any idea what may have happened to them? For peace of mind, is it likely they’ve all flown away? Would they return to our nest box? 

  • Hello Mitch, what is possibly likely to have happened is that the chicks all fledged recently; maybe early this morning. Being their first tentative flight some chicks do better than others; they will often fly to the nearest twig or shrub as the parents call the chicks out when its time for them to fledge - some chicks may not make it to the nearest twig/branch, etc., and may end up on the ground on their first flight attempt and I guess the cat took advantage of that fact and grabbed the chick. The chances are that all the other chicks made it out of the box to safety at height and the parents will now be tending to them and continuing to feed them for the next couple of weeks.   Keep your eyes peeled and you may see the chicks around,  you will often hear them before you see them as they call to be fed.       

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    Regards, Hazel 

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

  • Just happened to me. I've been watching two blue-tits nesting in my bird box work their beaks off for the last two months to see my neighbour's cat pounce on the only fledgling as it left the nest. It was only last week I saw the blue-tit parents remove a chick that didn't make it, and the only had one left which was nabbed by the cat. I feel absolutely devastated! What makes it worse is the neighbour fought the council last year and succeeded to get a large tree cut down adjacent to my garden because they wanted more sunlight, even though we experience lots of birds and bats frequently. I feel that maybe I should remove the bird box after summer as I don't want to tempt birds to nest in an area so full of predators and unreasonable people.
  • In reply to Morty Mouse :

    So sad. We felt the same way. Our only hope is that the other chicks managed to fly away. We’ve seen no sight of any of them since this morning.
  • In reply to HAZY:

    Good evening Hazel, we’ve been really hoping that your explanation was reality. Makes us feel much more positive. It does seem the most plausible situation as a roof was only a couple of feet away and lower than the nesting box. Also, a washing line was close. Do you know whether they return to the same nesting box?
    Many thanks,
    Mitch
  • Blue Tits only have one brood per year (Great Tits occasionally have two broods) and then next January/February they start to look for more nesting sites; it is possible your box will be used again next year but could be by any blue tits or depending on the entrance size to the box other species could use it too. Once Blue Tits have raised a brood they will not breed again this year; they usually only start another brood if a first one fails very early on. To raise around 8 chicks (sometimes more) takes a huge amount of energy from these little birds and you will see at the end of raising one brood the adults, especially the female, looks very worn out and tatty ! they will moult out their feathers around August time and grow new ones.

    Just to add a note;   you should not clean/empty out any nest boxes until end of breeding season;    I would suggest doing this Sept/October time so you can get the box back in place before the colder winter months when birds may use them to roost in .

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    Regards, Hazel 

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

  • In reply to HAZY:

    Thanks for taking the time to respond Hazel and for all the education.