Blue Tit nest box advice

Hi All, first time poster and all that. I built a nest box a few months ago and stuck it on a east facing wall of my house. After a while two blue tits made it their home and, until a few days ago, it was very active. I guess it was nest building phase first then for a few weeks one or both were constantly in and out with food in their beaks, every couple or few minutes and virtually all day. Some sparrows and a magpie have shown a bit of interest in the box during this time but I managed to shoo them off. The blue tits always came back but over the last few days the box has become inactive. I'm currently looking out of the window at it and have realised it's been in full sun since about 7am (now 10.30am) and will be for another few hours, perhaps until about 2pm. I fear I've put it in the wrong place and it's become too hot,  as we've had this corresponding heatwave and it's been about +25⁰C here since last week. The hole is facing directly east but the southern side is in direct sunlight for the above time. There are no dead chicks below the box, or any other debris for that matter. I've only seen one bird go in over the last few days and it was just in and out quickly, but I think it was a sparrow.

I was wondering if I should take a peek through the hole or maybe take a photo through it with my phone. Seems like the advice might be to just leave it until October and have a look then but wanted to check. Was also wondering if I did clear it out and move it now to somewhere with more shade would anything be able to nest in it again this year?

  • Hello Tekfab. Firstly you have positioned the box correctly, north/north east, once the sun moves around south/south west it will be cooler. You say you have magpies about, they are bad for invading nests and taking young, it is part of nature I am afraid. But, thy may have fledged, once the eggs are laid and hatch, they will fledge 18-21 days. From when you saw the parents feeding, was that roughly 3 weeks? Once they start to come out the box, they will soon fledge as the parents will be calling to them from outside in the trees/bushes. You may see and hear them around.

    Don't go near the nest, tempted as you are, it is actually an offence to do so and against the law to interfere with a nest site, leave that until October time when you can clear and clean out the box ready for next year. Blue tits will only have one brood a year, maybe if they start very early they may have another, but this year has been a very hard one for the babies, with the weather and no grubs and beasties to feed them, so many have been lost.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • I agree that it needs moving as it is in full sun too long. However, if the entrance hole allows sparrows in, the hole is too large for blue tits. They will run the risk each year of having the box taken from them. Also, house sparrows wipe out other species using any box they get into. If a sparrow has been going in and out, that is not good news and invariably is curtains for whatever previous species was there.
  • In reply to Catlady:

    Hi, thanks very much for the reply, there's an update. Was chatting to my neighbour about it and it turns out he knows a lot more about birds than I knew. He has an endoscope camera thing for his phone and poked it into the hole to have a look (sorry if this isn't really correct but I didn't see this message until after). Anyway he wasn't there long and we didn't disturb anything. The pic shows an empty nest apart from one egg. No dead chicks and no empty eggshells. He reckons this likely means there's been a successful result. If it was too hot there would be dead chicks and he said blue tits are pretty good at clearing out all the old shells, so as there is no evidence of anything untoward he thinks it probably went to plan. The time frame was about what you said i.e. 3 weeks of constant food trips. Definitely getting a nest cam for next season! I've spent half the day researching blue tits and behaviour and now a bit addicted! Thanks for the help.
  • In reply to Robbo:

    Hi Robbo, yeah my plan is to move it and there's an update reply to Catlady. Given that it appears the nest has been abandoned should I still leave it until autumn before I move it? I'm going to move it into another position not too far away from the original spot but the other side of a soil stack and fit a wooden shade to the side of it. That would put it about 6ft above the flue for my boiler, do you think that would be an issue? Btw the hole was for sparrows actually. I had them in my roof last year so blocked off that hole in winter so they couldn't nest again, and built the bird box for them. They didn't show much interest in it tho before the blue tits moved in. I guess I'll make a plate with a smaller hole if I want to keep the sparrows out next year. Will anything use this nest again this season or is it now dead? Thanks for your advice.