Bird Boxes 2015

For this years Bird Box Stories please go to the bottom of the page. 

My favourite gadget to date is the bird box camera. It allows you to pry into the microscopic lives of garden birds without them even knowing. This allows you to get true, natural behaviour. Over the past 3 years I have been expanding my bird box knowledge, buying new cameras, new software and I have really enjoyed watching the birds in my garden. 



Here is a video I made using some clips from the 2014 Blue Tit family! I experimented with various camera, including my trail camera and GoPro.


In 2012, I bought my first B&W bird box camera off HandyKam for £49. Although it wasn't the best picture quality, I still really enjoyed watching the chicks hatch and the parents caring for them. Unfortunately for me and the Blue Tit family the nest was predated on only a few days before fledging. However the chicks probably went to feed another families offspring, so it wasn't all bad news! 




In 2013, I got a new bird box camera. I decided to mount this camera on the outside of the same bird box. I then bought a 3-way AV cable splitter so that I could switch between the two channels, which was great fun. The family of Blue Tits that were nesting managed to raise a family of around 8 chicks, and they all fledged successfully!


I have started to plan and prepare for SPRING 2015! I have bought the latest bird box camera, which is HD and provides a very clear picture. I have installed this camera into the blue tit box, as it has been very successful over the past few years. I have moved my original bird box camera into a Great tit box at the far end of the garden (the box had great tits in last year, but no camera was inside). I recently made a bird box in DT, which I really enjoyed designing and building. I installed a camera and got it set up! As you can see, I have got lots planned and it is all very exciting!


The bird box above has been most successful with Blue Tits over the years, but the box is suitable for other species such as the Great Tit. It is also hand-made by more Norwegian relatives! Unfortunately when I got it the roof was glued on, so I had to adapt it to make it easy to clean out, position the camera etc. 


The bird box above is the great tit bird box. I bought it last year and it has already had a group of 5 great tits fledge from it! Here is the view from the bird box. As you can see there is lots of green foliage which is great for when the parents are looking for caterpillars.



Here is a modern bird box which I got for my birthday. It is a little more style over substance but I still wanted to give it a try!


I have set up all of these bird boxes in the past few days, and I am now desperately organising the software for me to be able to stream the footage live on my blog. I have bought the software necessary, but there have been a few technical hiccups along the way! I will definitely have it up and running in time for the breeding season though!


THE GREAT TIT BOX


I am really excited to have a great tit roosting in one of my camera next boxes this winter! It has been returning every night for a couple of weeks now and I really hope to chooses to breed here in the spring. As you can see, the second image shows it sleeping with its head rotated and tucked under its down feathers. In the first image, it had just started to get settled for the night ahead.




And the Great Tit a few days later, this time entering the box!


The nest is built, the eggs are laid, and incubation has begun!




The female had been incubating with the male making her occasional meals-on-wheels visits!


The chicks have arrived! 5 have definitely hatched, but there could be an extra one in there I haven't seen yet. Even if 5/6 hatched, that would be a very successful result.



The chicks just keep going and they show no signs of stopping! The parents are continuously ferrying food into the bird box. I find it weird how the bowl of the nest has shifted place and has become less circular…


The chicks are obviously getting bigger but they still have a long way to go until they are fit for fledging! Keep an eye on my twitter for the latest news. Click here.



THE BLUE TIT BOX



First the moss was added, taking up around 1/3 of the nest box.


Then hair and straw was layered on top.


Feathers were used to line the nest, and a bowl was constructed.


And the eggs are laid! All 6 look very healthy and equal in size which is good news.




Here is the male blue tit who has taken up residence in the shed bird box along with his partner. I can tell it's him due to the feather loss on his face (particularly the right side)


All of the chicks have hatched in the blue tit nest! The parent have obviously done a great job looking after them.


The female keeps popping back into the box to either feed them or incubating them. The male also makes quite a few visits to feed the female too which is nice to see. I am so pleased that most of the eggs hatched (I think 5 our of 6). 


The chicks are being fed mainly small green caterpillar's which are found on the undersides of leaves, particularly on apple trees. However, in the video below one of the chicks is fed something much larger. Does anyone know what it is?


Here is a very short clip of the nearly-fledged Blue Tit chicks, being fed by their loving mother…


The chicks have grown so quickly. You don't realise how much they've changed until you compare the differences! I have been watching these chicks grow physically and in confidence from when they were just hours old. It has been a really wonderful experience and I really hope they all make it to fledging day (which is predicted to be either the 28th or 29th of May!)


These images were taken on my phone. What I love about this bird box is that I can get unusually close to the action without disturbing the birds at all. 


From this to this in just a few weeks! Amazing!




Keep an eye on my main blog page for the latest updates. Also follow me on twitter at @StockwellBilly for news on all of my projects!