How to help a single parent (blackcap)?

The other day a female blackcap crashed into our window and landed dead on the balcony with a caterpillar in her beak. We have seen the male a lot recently and he seems to be going and coming very regularly from the trees/shrubs at the side of our house. We haven't yet seen proof of a nest or young, but I'm worried he may now be having to feed a nest of chicks on his own. I saw a previous question about helping a coal tit with single parenting and mealworms were suggested - is this the best thing to offer our blackcaps?

Btw I'm very new to bird watching (and new to our house with a big overgrown garden - we moved in 5 months ago) so very grateful for any advice!

  • I believe they might be but I think you will need live ones and not the dried out ones from the shops - I believe their nutritional value is very limited.




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  • Morning cigaline,
    If it's mealworms and if Bob's right and you need live ones, try local hobby fishing suppliers (we've used them before for single parent Blackbird nests); alternatively, any local wildlife rescue/rehabilitation centres will be able to advise and will have, I believe, a stock of live ones, particularly at this time of the year.
    Overgrown garden---great place for Blackcaps.
    All the best -
  • Those blackcaps must have got on with breeding quite quickly for them to have arrived, built a nest, laid eggs and them already to have hatched and be feeding. Are you in UK? If so, presumably quite far south?
  • Thank you all very much for your replies! Unfortunately since writing I have hardly seen the blackcap, certainly not going back and forth from the same place as he was at the weekend. The idea of there being young around was based on having seen him doing that repeatedly and the fact that the female had a caterpillar in her beak when we found her (not sure how significant that is though).

    @Robbo I have to confess I am not actually in the UK but in France (outskirts of Paris) - I'm not yet aware of anything like the RSPB community here though.
    I'm pretty sure the blackcap has been heard here for at least a month - not sure if that is long enough? At any rate, I'm now wondering if my initial idea about the young was completely wrong...
  • I will contact a friend in South of France who will likely be able to suggest groups for you to join but is also good to hear from you on here!


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  • Hi cigaline, I'm not sure I can add much to what the others have said, but I live in France too, in Charente Maritime on the Gironde estuary. I'm a member of the LPO, which is the equivalent of the RSPB but much smaller with 50,000 members compared to 1,000,000 members of RSPB. This is a link to the National website There are local people in every departement & sometimes other local associations. What département are you in? They also have a facebook page, but I don't do facebook! For general help & chat, you're probably better off on here!
    I buy birdfood in bulk from the UK as it's much cheaper, helped by people on here who gave me the good addresses (thanks Alan). However live mealworms could be tricky. Our Great tits are almost fledged, but you're further North so maybe the Blackcaps hadn't started nesting or perhaps the eggs were just laid.
    You can also get local information on the "faune" network which has details of local events & you can put observations on. This is the link & then you can click on the site most local to you.
    If you want more info, you can come on here or send me a personal mail via this forum.
    Good luck!

    Best wishes

    Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France

  • Noisette, 'For general help & chat, you're probably better off on here!' That's my experience too, living in Switzerland. We post pretty much daily via website or app to Switzerland's sightings repository, but I'm not aware of anywhere here where I can ask, say, "Does anyone think that Blue Tits spend longer feeding in nest boxes than Great Tits do?" (which might be my dumb question for today, we'll see). Which is why I'm still on these forums.
  • Hello WendyBartter and Noisette!

    Thank you for the link to the LPO, that looks interesting but I'm not surprised the RSPB is a much bigger community. Belonging to preservation charities does seem to be quite a British thing. It's great to be able to tap into all that expertise!
    We are in the Val d'Oise (95). I'll have a look at the faune website too - already found a good site for reporting red squirrel sightings - we are lucky to see them almost daily now, nibbling on the catkins in our (what we think is an ash) tree.

    Dave, I wondered if the CH in your name meant Switzerland! Interested to hear what answers you get about the great/blue tits.

    The blackcap has been singing a lot high up this morning - I wonder what his chances of finding a new mate are at this point in the season?
  • Hello all,

    I just wanted to revive this thread to share with you all the very exciting news I discovered the other day: our male blackcap somehow managed to raise a whole brood after all!

    Having heard but not seen a single sighting of the male all summer, to my astonishment the other day I saw what looked like (to my inexperienced eye) a juvenile female in the elder tree outside the window. A lot more coming and going of female and male was seen that day (but too quick to be sure if adult or young) until a couple of days later, we saw 2 young males and a female, all together in the tree at the same time!

    It seems a miracle to me but I suppose the male must have somehow found a new mate...
  • That's a great story cigaline, and a great way to start the weekend.

    Here, there are so many around that it's hard to believe that they're all paired up (even if that's a very unscientific observation). In our experience, there's certainly a lull in visibility and audibility until chicks are out and independent. Then the clicking, at least, begins again. The young ones seem to spend all their time until independent in thick bushes, Nightingale-style. I was nose-to-beak with an entire brood a few weeks ago when working in an area of the garden that I don't normally visit.

    Many, many years ago we were involved when a male Blackbird raised an entire brood alone, the female having disappeared. Well, alone except for us and the local fishing supplies shop.

    Thanks for sharing their story.