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Friday, 24 May 2013

A sad day...

Feeling rather miserable tonight as unbelievably a Great Spotted Woodpecker has demolished not only the nest box with an almost ready to fly blue tit family by drilling a hole in the bottom of the box but has also managed to do the same with our other nest box containing almost ready to fly Great Tits... all gone I'm wondering with the continued cold weather if perhaps there is so little around for birds to feed their young?

I wonder if anyone else has had any similar experiences?  In the 10 yrs we've been here I've never seen anything like this... two nests demolished in one afternoon...

11 comments:

Frank said...

Miranda. A number of friends have reported unusual visits of Great-spotted Woodpeckers to their gardens in recent days. Our Blue Tits abandoned nesting some 2 weeks ago and I'm fairly certain that was due to the drop in temperatures BUT more concerning it the distinct lack of insects and caterpillars etc.

Unfortunately GS Woodies often raid boxes when there is a lack of their natural food to feed their growing youngsters. Not a lot you can do apart from using nest hole protectors and possibly cladding the box with tin sheet!

Miranda Bell said...

Hi Frank - thanks so much for posting. It's been v. interesting this year with the cooler weather - which is quite noticeable here in Brittany as by now it's def T-shirt weather! (tomrrow morning showing on the forecast at 1 degree!) Both parent Blue and Great Tits seemed to be finding plenty of food for their young to beging with as we're surrounded by open woodland (Oak and Hazel mainly) but latterly as the chicks were getting more vocal in the boxes I noticed they were going between the box and bird table and taking back beaks filled with fat ball! In previous years the Woodies have tried their luck by sticking a beak inside the boxes but I've never seen the carnage as this year... we've been here 10 yrs now. Will have to go and get some specially clad boxes as you suggest!

Brittanygirl said...

Hello Miranda

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your great tit babies. I have five boxes up here and none of them are ever used. Before the buildings were converted birds nested in the cracks between the stones and I put up boxes in the places where we knew they had brought up babies before. I also had a box with a camera installed but it doesn't seem to matter where I site them, and what direction they face, no-one wants to use them.

Sandra x
http://livingin22.blogspot.com

Miranda Bell said...

Hi Sandra - unfortunately it wasn't just the Great Tit box - it was the Blue Tits as well all in the same afternoon - they weren't far off fledging so I'm hopeful that perhaps one or two might have escaped. As to the boxes that the birds don't want to use... a mystery! Maybe there are plenty of natural nesting sites near you that they prefer?

Sue Garrett said...

I haven't had this happen in my garden but was once talking to a guy at a local RSPB reserve who said that GSW's were a major problem for nestboxes. He said magpies had a bad press but they weren't as devastating as GSW's. He said the magpies can't usually get in for the chicks and have to wait for them to fledge but that GSW's listen at the box to locate the chicks and them=n hammer holes in the base to gain access and take the whole brood. So sorry your experiences have proved this to be correct. I wonder how the boxes can be reinforced - string wire mesh around them?

Midmarsh John said...

Oh dear. What a sad disaster. I have had a GS Woodpecker visit more often but so far it seems to have found enough peanuts to keep it away from the nestbox.

Angie said...

How sad. I had a woodpecker visiting my garden this winter for the first time and was told just how nasty these birds can be. Mother nature is cruel!
I hope you can get some defences sorted for next year.

Miranda Bell said...

Hi Sue - sorry it's taken me so long to reply to your kind comments - trying to keep up with the recent growth in the garden (and all my clients!) with warm and v. thundery weather! I've clad the boxes that I've got with off cuts from decking which seems pretty tough... so hope this will hold out better... maybe we should be renewing nest boxes more regularly?

Miranda Bell said...

Hi MMJ - we've been feeding our birds loads this last while so there's plenty of peanuts around for them - I guess baby bird was higher up on the menu! Glad to hear that you've not experienced the same but interesting to hear on Springwatch that Chris Packham had experienced exactly the same thing!

Miranda Bell said...

Hi Angie.. sorry to take so long in replying... it's not all sad news as this last week has seen loads of fledged blue and great tits in particular in the garden - love to hear the continued calling in the garden!

Sue Garrett said...

I was thinking about this and wondered about putting the box in a sort of cage - as some feeder have to stop larger birds getting in? I suppose woodpeckers do have to feed but I would prefer it wasn't 'my' birds