Bird Nest Box Survey at Lower Sharpham Farm
At Sharpham farm, surveying biodiversity is one of the core activities of the traineeship program that runs throughout the year. The Bird Nest Box Survey is conducted from March to July, and involves the check-up of the 67 nest boxes on a weekly basis during that period.
These boxes have been made with a specific size in order to fit the nesting characteristics of small passerine birds such as the Great tit, the Blue tit and the Nuthatch. These birds are common around the farm and quite easy to recognize, the long-term prospect is then to diversify the boxes shape and welcome a wider range of bird species.
Conducting such a survey is ideal to witness the development of the nests and then of the hatchlings until they become mature enough to fledge off the nest. It also allows us to have a clearer picture of the behaviour of the adults while they are taking care of their chicks or while they are alerted by our presence near their nest.
It is truly a pleasure to open a box and discover how it has evolved from one week to another. It is in fact a great chance to be able to get into bird’s hidden nesting life, which truly contrasts with the show they usually offer to us by their singings and flying feats.
The nesting period is particularly important for them, as they put so much effort for the well-being of their offspring. We learnt that it is a crucial period for them to ensure their progeny, that’s why we always spend only few seconds to do our check up to avoid scaring them out of their nest.
During the months of March and mid-April we observed the building of the nests with the birds coming and going in the boxes, while carrying moss and fur in their beak. It was a very exciting moment to discover the growing number of nest that will be occupied for the next weeks.
Starting from Late-April, eggs appeared in more and more nests and the adults started their covering duty. From then, we had to be especially precautious since the birds began to be much more alert to any activity occurring around their nest. It was truly amazing to observe such tiny sized-eggs which are no bigger than the tip of our fingers, as many of us hadn’t have the opportunity to observe them so closely before.
The month of May coincided with the first emergence of hatchlings. I personally think it was the most interesting part of the survey, since we were able to observe their growth and how they acquire their beautiful plumage.
By early June, the young are leaving the nests and will start their new life after the precious care of their parents. We will be looking forward to welcome them for the next surveys, this time as parents!
Here you can see the evolution of a Blue Tit nest from late April to early June:
late April, how many eggs in there ?
early May, a nice surprise !
Mid-May, still blind and naked
Late-May, with their feathers growing