Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Fuglebloggen Fra Follebu-Toppengård (Week 3)

This week has been crazy! I have been preparing for a while now to work this week alone. My supervisor had a conference in London she had to fly to in which she was presenting on another research topic and would be gone for a good part of the week. Early in the week we measured the Coal Tits in Nest Box 100 for the last time. They were grown and ready to fly that day so we took our last set of measurements and said goodbye to them. It was incredible to be able to watch them grown from tiny little chicks into small birds ready to fly. New chicks were being hatched constantly which left us with 13 nests to measure chicks in. Some nests have up to ten chicks in them so measuring can take a long time, but as more nests hatch, more begin to fledge, or fly the nest.
The last picture of the Coal Tits in Nest 100 before they fledged!

We sadly discovered that the female Blue Tit who we had caught the previous week to check her band ID seemed to have either been killed or deserted her nest. When we went to check on her box there was a chick that was prematurely out of its egg, and out of the nest cup, or the indentation in the nest where the eggs are laid and the chicks lay in. There were blue feathers and cracked eggs. All signs that something had disturbed the nest and most likely killed the female Blue Tit and the eggs.

This Blue Tit chick weighs less than a gram!
Wednesday was the first day I was completely on my own. I had to come up with the routes before hand so I made sure that everything I needed to do that day got done. I loaded up with the GPS, a list of nests I had to check, a bag of equipment, and a ladder and set out. The first day wasn't bad, there were only three nests that had chicks that needed to be measured, each one was on a different route though. There are about five or six major routes, some include smaller branching routes. Luckily these three nests were somewhat close to one another so I measured the chicks (which were incredibly small, weighing in just barely above 1 gram, one weighed less than that).

It was Thursday that was the extremely busy day. I had to check all the nest boxes that had any signs of nesting in them, AND measure 11 boxes that had chicks in them. In total I worked for about 11 hours on Thursday. I was able to get a video of what a female Great Tit does when she feels her nest is being threatened. They puff up, tiff, and shake their feathers. We don't intend to provoke the parents, usually they fly out of the nest once we open it. Sometimes they stay put and do this kind of display, but after we gently coax them they fly out unharmed and return to their nests once we leave.
Female Great Tit guarding her chicks.

There were five nests that were banded (or ringed) between Thursday and Friday. There are surprisingly more Great Tit nests than both Blue Tit and Coal Tit combined, but the Pied Flycatchers are still laying eggs and building nests. There is one nest that has begun to hatch that belongs to a flycatcher. The Tit species all make their nests out of moss, sheep wool, and other soft materials. While Flycatchers make their nests out of bark and grasses, they also lay light blue colored eggs, which are much different than the white eggs with red spots that the Tits lay.
European Pied Flycatcher eggs beginning to hatch!

Friday I got the chance to measure the Field Farrows for the last time. There were only two in the nest when I measured them which means most likely that the third had already fledged, and left the nest. They were massive compared to the other birds we have been studying.
Field Farrow ready to fly the nest.

It was another fantastic week. The next few weeks there will be increasing amounts of work to do because most the the nests that haven't hatched yet are about to. Since it takes two to three weeks for a nest to fledge there will be a lot of work to keep up with.

This Great Tit nest was hatching when I checked it!

Earlier in the week (Monday) The three Field Farrows in the nest. 

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