Saturday 12th January 2013
Every January we check the 12 bird boxes installed at One Tree Hill to provide refuge and breeding space for small birds. This year we discovered that all but 1 of the nests held nests. The nests had been built by either blue tits or great tits with some containing chicks that had perished. It’s always sad to see a baby bird hasn’t made it, but there will have been plenty more chicks that have, some of which were probably singing around us as we cleared out the nests.
Birds are creative nest makers. The nest in the image above contained the luminous hairs of a tennis ball, probably left over by a dog walker. Also used were mosses, long grasses and other sinuous fibres. The warm and dry conditions within the boxes meant the nests were crawling with fleas and parasites. That’s why we clean them out.
The boxes can be difficult to reach so a ladder is used with all the appropriate safety equipment. The boxes are made from woodcrete to protect from woodpecker drumming, so a falling lid to the head could be quite unpleasant.
This lump of fallen wood was complete with woodpecker nesting holes. In January great spotted woodpeckers begin drumming, rattling their bills against branches at great speed to mark out their territory and warn other males of their intentions. Woodpeckers have shock absorbers in their skulls which stops them from being caused any harm when ‘hammering’.