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Tips & Advice : Nesting UpsetAt home in our garden over the past few weeks or so we have been busy watching the Great tits build their nest in our bird box for the second year running.
We were delighted to see them return this year and watched in awe as they got to work, initially checking out the box in their own unique way, pecking around the entrance marking it as their territory, fetching twigs, moss, hair and any other soft materials they could find to build and line their nest in readiness for laying their eggs, hatching and rearing their young. The pair frantically coming and going from dawn to dusk.
It made you tired just watching them and it was easy to see how much energy they were using and why high energy food was vital to them at times like this. They took advantage of the source of bird food we had on offer in our garden, a readily available meal.
After many hectic days the activity seemed to slow down a little and they appeared calmer and less frantic. The male appeared to be the one busying himself while the female appeared to remain longer in the box. She had laid her eggs and was sitting on them and her partner was busy fetching food for her.
While the Great Tits had been busy preparing their home we had noticed a pair of Blackbirds had started to build their nest just a foot away from the bird box in a most unsuitable sapling pine tree, partially exposed and very unstable as it swayed in the slightest breeze.
The male blackbird split his time between building the nest and chasing off any other blackbirds that dared to come into the garden to feed.
The two pairs of birds appeared unconcerned by each others intimate housing arrangements and beavered away happily.
However once the female blackbird had laid her eggs to our dismay this quickly changed. All of a sudden the close proximity of the two nests became an issue to the blackbirds.
We watched helplessly as the blackbirds consistently harassed the poor Great tits, shrill squawking and the aggressive stance of the male blackbird as he displayed great hostility towards the poor Great Tits. He sat on the roof of their nest box, waited on the shed roof for them to appear and then did his best to chase them off with threatening behaviour.
It was extremely upsetting to watch nature at work.
What happened next is an example of the cruel twist of nature the Great Tits just disappeared we can only think they were scared off by the hostile Blackbirds. We watched from a distance for a couple of days with no sign of either of the Great Tits. Finally we took at look inside the box to find the sad sight of a perfectly formed nest with 4 eggs nestling inside - many hours of hard work had been wasted they had now been forced to abandon their nest. As the nest only contained 4 eggs they could have been frightened off before they had finished laying.
Meanwhile the Blackbirds were busy as usual siting on their eggs, coming and going with a determined purpose and chasing off any other birds that crossed their path.
What we observed a few days later was unexpected the sudden appearance of a magpie in the tall tree in the corner of the garden. Magpies were not a breed of bird we had ever seen in the back garden before.
The Magpie was showing an unhealthy interest in the Blackbirds activity their location and their nest with eggs in it. The Blackbirds became very agitated and appeared to fly around in all direction squawking loudly flying towards the Magpie one minute and away from him the next. One or the other of them never straying too far away from their nest and eggs.
The Magpie then started to get closer to the pine tree by hopping between the branches of the Christmas tree next to the sapling, getting into spaces you wouldn't think they could fit he appeared to be on a mission.
At one time we felt we had to try and intervene in an effort to preserve the blackbird eggs and help avoid another sad loss. We went into the garden to the location of the Christmas tree and made sufficient noise at the base of the tree in order to distract the determined Magpie. It appeared to have worked and the Magpie retreated to the tall tree in the corner of the garden. However we hadn't been back in the house long before we saw the Magpie descending again and weaving his way through the tree branches we repeated our previous distraction techniques and again the Magpie retreated.
All our efforts were unfortunately in-vain as an hour later a noisy commotion drew our attention to the garden where we saw the Magpie was in the pine tree pecking aggressively at the blackbird's nest and its contents.