Please help - Great tits fledged early! Really worried!

Hi! 

So tonight has been one of the worst nights I’ve ever had - I have tried to make my garden a haven for wildlife, and as such some great tits have taken to nesting in a box I put up high on the fence.

Now, we have many cats around here, so I can proofed the area around the box with plastic spikes - this seemed to work and the birds laid their eggs and have been feeding lived food regularly for several weeks and seeds for the past week.

Last night, I think the local cat sensed the chicks moving, and nearly managed to get at them in the box. I figured I would put up a few extra spikes tonight when things were quiet to prevent the cat eating them.

I thought the chicks might fledge today, the parents have cut the feeding down, and they were hanging out of the feeding hole. However no fledging today. I went out around 8pm after the parents had flown off to put a few of the cat deterring strips near the box, and the chicks became startled and all of them flew out of the box!! This has never happened before, even when I’ve gone about my gardening near the box (my gardening isn’t huge) and even when the box got knocked down by a severe storm. There must have been about 7 birds that flew out. They nearly all flew straight to the land next to my house which is a densely wooded forest area - a little one landed in next doors garden, but then flew up to the forest. I can even see them in the trees. 

Now, I am absolutely beside myself - I have done everything I possibly can and because I tried to stop them from being eaten, I scared them and now I’m wondering if they have fledged too early? What will happen? Will the parents be nesting nearby and will they hear them? I know that they need to be fed by parents for several days after fledging. Is all hope lost? 

The area doesn’t really suffer from predation from raptors - I guess I’m just wondering is there any hope for these little guys? Will they call out for the parents in the morning? They are all in the trees and seemed to be quite able fliers - like I said I thought they might fledge today. 

I am just completely heartbroken, I just hope that there is some glimmer of hope. They have all made it to the trees - but it’s 8pm and I’m worried that the parents might not find them in the morning. 

I just feel awful, truly truly awful. 

  • Hi Sophie, I would say that if the chicks have managed to fly out of the box, even if they were spooked, then they were almost certainly ready to go anyway and hopefully the parent birds will hear their call and will still continue to feed them as they do for around two more weeks following their fledging so please don't worry. Sounds like there is plenty of woodland and cover for them nearby so they have as good a chance as is possible with new fledglings. The parent birds won't be far away and will know where they are.

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    Regards, Hazel 

    My Flickr. photo  link HERE 

  • Hi! Thanks for responding so quickly - I have been going out of my mind with worry and upset.

    Does it matter that it was just before sunset and the parents aren’t around? Will they hear them in the morning? I assume the parents roost nearby?

    Hopefully they won’t get too cold either? Lucky we had a nice day!

    Thanks for your reply :)
  • They should be fine Sophie, even if the parent birds took flight they will be in the area and hear the fledglings and hopefully you will see them around your garden tomorrow as they don't travel too far from their nest site. Try get some sleep and don't beat yourself up any more, they were on the brink of leaving the box anyway and parents were probably trying to coax them out if they were not feeding them as often !! If they can fly they can find foliage/twigs/trees and will use calls to attract their parents.

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Regards, Hazel 

    My Flickr. photo  link HERE 

  • Please don't feel awful, you were doing your best to protect them and I think you succeeded. I would have tried to do the same. I am certainly no expert but we have had bluetits, great tits and sparrows nesting in our garden boxes for years. If your birds were not ready to fledge, they could not have flown so far. Mine usually just nip over to the nearest branch on the beech tree a couple of yards away :-)
    I think they will be fine. The parents will not be far away and will hear them calling I am sure. Great tits generally stay together for a few days after fledging I believe so the parents are more likely to hear them. The weather is fine which is also helpful.

    Baby birds can all leave very quickly once the first one flies the nest. I had a camera in my bluetit nest and was watching nine chicks I thought were near to fledging for hours. Unfortunately, nipped to the loo for two minutes and came back to a picture of a completely empty nest! I went outside and could hear them in the trees and actuall spotted a couple of them.

    Please don't beat yourself up, we all just do our best and you have helped to get them this far so i would say you have done well! Probably the cat scared them more than you did. Personally, I always feel anxious when any of "my" birds fledge, I always wish they would return to the nest at night so I would know they were safe. I honestly believe they will be fine.
  • It is surprising just how our birds do survive under difficult conditions,we all worry about "our"birds with a lot of finger crossing and hoping for the best. Cats,love 'em or hate 'em, do take a lot of birds despite our best efforts to prevent it hunting is in their nature.

    Pete

    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • Hi Sophie. That sounds terrible and I'm always on edge this time of year, but if they've made it to the trees then they should be fine. They have quiet calls they make which amazingly the parents can hear from quite far away but they will only go to them when the coast is clear. If the weather is good then they have a much better chance of being ok. They'll probably stay still and quiet, trying to keep out of dangers way and will be found by the parents.
  • Hi Sophie. That sounds terrible and I'm always on edge this time of year, but if they've made it to the trees then they should be fine. They have quiet calls they make which amazingly the parents can hear from quite far away but they will only go to them when the coast is clear. If the weather is good then they have a much better chance of being ok. They'll probably stay still and quiet, trying to keep out of dangers way and will be found by the parents.