When Do Blue Tits Nest? Nesting Habits & Timing For The Blue Tit

The Blue Tit is a common garden bird that is entertaining to observe around your garden. They can be identified by the blue colouration on their wings, head, and back and have bright yellow chests. Blue Tits are very energetic and will frequently visit feeders or tables in the garden. They will happily nest in man-made boxes, so they are the perfect bird to watch for year after year. 

Blue Tits will begin searching for a nesting site in February. They can be seen investigating cracks of trees and walls, or examining man-made boxes to find the perfect home. Blue Tits look for a nest site that has a clear and direct path to the entrance and it needs to thoroughly protect the eggs from predators. The breeding season for Blue Tits is in March, but the female Blue Tit does not begin building the nest until April. 

Building the Nest

Blue Tit females are in charge of building the nest while their mate watches for predators or competing males. The Blue Tit male does not aid the female at all, other than protection, during the nest building process. 

Females will begin building the nest by creating the shape of cup out of moss. Then, the female Blue Tit will create layers of soft materials such as feathers, fur, wool, spider webs, or more moss. If a Blue Tit has chosen a man-made box to nest in, it will still line the box with soft materials for its eggs. If you are wanting to offer a man-made nesting box for Blue Tits in your garden, it should be placed 2 to 4 metres off the ground and face northeast. This placement offers the best protection for the nest from moisture and excessive heat. The process of building the perfect Blue Tit nest can take as little as 2 days, if a man-made nest box is chosen, or up to 2 weeks if the Blue Tit is creating a nest from scratch. 

Egg Laying & Incubating

A female Blue Tit will begin laying eggs in late April or early May. Female Blue Tits lay one egg per day, typically very early in the morning. She can lay up to 16 eggs for her clutch, but the average number of eggs is between 8 and 12.

Even though the mate of the female Blue Tit is standing guard over her, it is estimated that 40% of Blue Tit nests contain at least one egg that was not created by the chosen mate. This means that a mating pair of Blue Tits often raise a chick that is not a genetic offspring of the male Blue Tit. 

The incubation period for Blue Tit eggs is around 14 days and begins as soon as the final egg is laid. Female Blue Tits will pluck feathers from her abdomen to create a bare patch of skin, called a brood patch, in order to evenly warm her eggs. The male Blue Tit can be seen bringing his mate food during this time, as the female Blue Tit will rarely leave her eggs to feed herself. 

Baby Blue Tits

After the 2 week incubation period, the baby Blue Tits will hatch. The chicks hatch bare and blind, which renders them vulnerable to predators and cold weather. Blue Tit parents will stay close to the nest throughout the day, but will be constantly searching for food. 

Hatchlings can consume up to 100 caterpillars a day, which translates to about 1000 caterpillars for clutch of 10 eggs every day. The male and female Blue Tits will be seen flitting in and out of the nest continuously throughout the day in order to keep up with their hatchlings food demands.

By the end of May, the hatchlings will have opened their eyes and developed feathers. The hatchling period for Blue Tits lasts about 3 weeks, and then they become fledglings.

Fledgling Blue Tits are encouraged to explore their environment, but stay in close proximity to the nest. The parents of the fledglings are always nearby and remain the primary providers of food for their young. 

Fledgling Blue Tits learn how to fly, search for food, and evade predators. They are considered young adults after the month of July, and if they survive the winter they will be able to breed the following spring. Unfortunately, roughly two-thirds of juvenile Blue Tits do not survive their first year. 

Summary

In summary, Blue Tits are a beautiful garden bird that is found throughout the U.K. and Ireland. They can be seen in urban, rural, and country environments throughout the year. Blue Tits begin searching for a nest site in February, find a mate in March, and begin laying eggs in late April or early May.

Nests are crafted from an initial layer of soft moss, and then soft materials such as feathers, fur, spider webs, or hair are woven in. Blue Tit nesting sites are cracks in walls or trees and are safe from immediate threat of predators.

Blue Tits will also choose a man-made nesting box, if it is placed in an ideal location. Once a Blue Tit clutch is laid, it will take about 2 weeks for the chicks to hatch. These hatchlings are blind and featherless, but quickly grow into fledglings over the course of 3 weeks. Blue Tit parents and their young stay close to the nest throughout summer and can sometimes be recognised the following year in the same area.


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