Thursday, 25 May 2017

Bird Box Monitoring

On Wenlock Edge we have a large bird box scheme, and every year, in April and May, we check these boxes for nests, eggs and chicks and count and record what we find. The large majority of boxes are used by blue-tits and great-tits and some boxes are used by Nuthatch and Pied-flycatchers. Sometimes bees, wood mice and dormice make their homes inside the boxes too.

Volunteers Linda and Miles checking a bird box
If there is evidence a nest box is being used by a bird it will be checked every week and its contents recorded. We record what stage it is in the nest building process, then how many eggs are present, how many chicks successfully hatch, what species they are and finally how many successfully fledged. When the chicks are only a few days old they are blind and naked which makes it very hard to identify species so we wait to see the parent return to nest and identify them. Depending on how old the chicks are we will ring them, with a licensed bird ringer. The ring goes on their leg causing no harm and can be used to identify how far they fly. The data from these box checks goes into a national database which informs population trends.

Top Left: An empty box.
Top Right: 4 white eggs with brown speckles in a nest made of moss and animal hair.
Bottom Left: 5 little chicks huddled together to keep warm. These are about 8 days old and have their feathers and are no longer 'blind' but cannot fly yet.
Bottom Right: These are 3 much older Great tits that are almost fully developed and will leave the nest soon.