On a dog walk recently, I came across a chance and delightful discovery; drawn to the high pitched squeaking, I peered inside:
Blue tit nest: Nancy Brown
...to discover these blue-tit nestlings inside an outdoor tap box. Usually nests are built high up or deep within foliage, as far away from predators as possible but this nest was in an unusually accessible place. The top didn't close properly so this is how the adult female was accessing the inside of the box. It may well not be watertight if there is a significant downpour and the box is also in sun for a large part of the day (two details advised against when you are positioning a bird box of your own) but this is the home that she chose and it's working well so far.
This brood are thriving and safe in their box but it was a reminder of the fragility of tiny baby birds and whether we should intervene or not when we come across them in our gardens or out and about.
Hatchlings are as the name suggests: baby birds that have just hatched. Their eyes are closed and their feathers have not yet formed so they are pretty much just skin or have a tiny bit of fluffy down.. and a large beak! Nestlings are slighter more developed youngsters with open eyes, down and some properly formed feathers. If you find a healthy nestling on the ground and can see the nest near by, it can be gently placed back in the nest. Fledglings are young birds that are getting ready to fly, they will have almost all their proper feathers formed and may have left the nest to hop about on the ground while they practice for a few days. The parent is usually near by and still feeding them while they find their feet. (or wings in their case). It's best to leave them alone unless they are in immediate danger.
If you find a baby bird, there is more information from the RSPB on finding baby birds plus a handy guide on what to do from the RSPCA.
The British Trust of Ornithology also have some fascinating details about a year in the life of a Blue Tit including it's nesting season here.
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