Great Tit chicks abandoned in nest box

Hi I'm a new poster and would appreciate any advice people could give me. We have a nest box on the back of our house that has had Great Tits nesting inside. The parents have been coming back and forth for a while with food but I noticed on Thursday night I had not seen the male and the female now seemed to be doing it on her own, this continued all day Friday and into today, just the female back and forth feeding. Then I noticed today that the female has stopped coming too. I last saw her at around midday and she has not been back since, the chicks noise is now a constant chirping as they are starving, is there anything I can do for them? The thought of them starving to death is heartbreaking 

Thanks in advance 

  • Sorry about this. Many nest boxes will have failed, or be failing this year. Weather has been about as bad as it can get for breeding garden birds. Hard frosts then cold, heavy rain. There is a chance on or both adults have been predated. Suitable food shortage is the other probability.

    As to what can be done, if no adult is around, very difficult. Maybe someone can suggest something. Obv, if an adult is around, mini mealworms are the option.
  • In reply to Robbo:

    Thanks for the reply Robbo, I have some mini mealworms that I've been putting out on the bird feeder for the female to take and help with the feeding but she is definitely not coming back. Is it a bad idea for me to try and feed the chicks directly with the mealworms do you think? Am I just delaying the inevitable?

    Thanks
  • Hi Matt
    The same thing happened to someone I was following on Instagram and they tried to feed them mini mealworms with tweezers through the box but they wouldn’t take them.
    In the end a local wildlife rescue came and got them (at approx. 36 hours after they were abandoned).
    I hope someone can help you. I would be heart broken too :(
  • Hi Matt, you could try to find a rescuer near you
    helpwildlife.co.uk/.../

     

     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • Thanks very much for everyone who has replied, I left the nestbox alone last night for as long as I could to not interfere, hoping that the chicks parent would return, it was becoming clear this wasn't going to happen and the chirping that was on and off earlier in the day whenever they heard a noise had now become a constant noise, one that I could hear from inside the house.

    At 9pm it was dark, the temperature was dropping and the chirping started to get quieter as they sounded like they were giving up. I couldn't listen to it anymore so I unhooked the birdbox from the wall and took it into the garage, took the top panel off, which is removable incase you want to attract robins and began feeding them some be-headed mealworms with some tweezers.

    I sat there for quite a while feeding them these and then replaced the panel and hooked the birdbox back on the back of my house, I thought about keeping them sheltered in the garage but thought if there is the slightest chance of a parent returning early in the morning before I'm awake then they need to be back in position.

    I didn't expect them to make it through the night if I'm honest as they hadn't be fed at all yesterday between about 11am when I last say the parent and 9pm when I intervened, but when I opened the back door this morning the loud chirping began again. I left them for a little while watching incase the mother had returned but she hadn't so again I began feeding them with mealworms.

    I then followed Robyns and Wendys advice in getting in touch with a local wildlife rescue centre, thanks both very much for that, there were a couple of ones in the area for hedgehogs and one that said it was for all wildlife including garden birds. I gave him a ring and spoke to him for quite a while offering me some advice but he said they were more for foxes badgers etc. and wouldn't be able to take the great tits. Also said they had been inundated with similar calls.

    I've now started feeding them cat food on his advice instead of mealworms and have put some cotton wool type bedding around the outside of the nest to try and give them a bit more insulation. I'm also thinking about keeping them a bit more sheltered tonight to try and keep them warm, I was thinking inside my kida playhouse with a hot water bottle nearby. Any advice really appreciated as I'm totally unexperienced with anything like this

    Thanks very much
  • In reply to Matt2877:

    I will put a couple of photos/videos up if anyone is interested and can explain how to do it

    Thanks
  • Good advice re cat food rather than mealworms. Cheaper and easier for humans. Mealworms would always just be the suggestion if it was for the parents to feed the young.
  • Thanks Robbo, they seem to be enjoying the cat food, is there anything else you'd suggest giving them? Before the parent dissappeared I noticed her taking small bits of fat or suet in from my bird feeder, do you think that could be a good idea?

    Thanks
  • I've never hand reared, so can't pretend to know. But, lack of calcium is a well known issue that always needs considering when manually feeding young birds. I personally would be wary of feeding fat/suet, but if you're able to ensure it doesn't get on them, and only goes in them, a tiny amount might be beneficial? I'm only guessing that, but quick calories might be worthwhile. Where to get the calcium from, not sure. I think only a tiny amount is required as too much can also cause problems. Good luck with the steep learning curve.
  • Hi Matt, well done on your efforts in trying to rear these chicks ... you don't say where you are but I often come across a wildlife rescue guy in Sheerness, Kent who is well versed in raising very young abandoned chicks ... maybe you could ring him for advice on what to feed the chicks & how best to generally care for them ... his name is Ray

    Hope you can see phone number clearly

    One of his latest vids ... www.facebook.com/.../

     

     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr