Great Tits breed in Koenigsbronn
|The Great Tit (german: Kohlmeise, sci.: Parus major). For many years
there is a nest box in my garden, where great tits regularly stay over night and breed.
A little b&w camera and a microphone is in the inside, so you can watch everything on TV
or even over the internet.
Live picture from inside the nest box (webcam)
Nest box technology
[Great Tit Story 1996]
[Great Tits on New Year's Eve]
[My elder bird pictures]
[Interesting links on the Great Tit and nest boxes]
Great Tit Story 1996Winter 1995/1996 was not yet running out when a pair of Great Tits found their place in my nest box, which they examined from the inside to the outside. I often recorded the events in the nest box with a VCR. Subsequent I will tell the whole story about the two Great Tits, from the "housing inspection" to the fly out of the young birds.
Further eventsDuring winter 1996/97, striktly speaking from the 12th of november until the 9th of february, every night a Great Tit was guest in the nest box. In twilight, approximately 1630 to 1700 in november, she's "coming home". At first she cleans all feathers before she sticks her head under one wing and sleeps till 0700 in the morning. Then she looks like a feather ball! From awakening to starting out of the nest box, before the sun ist rising, only 15 seconds will pass! The night time of the Great Tit depends on the brightness in twilight. If the sun is shining, she comes home later than on a cloudy day. In the beginning of february it gets warmer outside and the insects awake in the nest. The Great Tit itches and scratches herself half night long and in future she prefers to sleep outside again...
Also in Spring 1997 a pair of Great Tits used the nest box again. This time from 04/20 the Great Tit laid 8 eggs, 7 little birds hatched on 05/09+10, unfortunately only 3 of them kept alive and left the nest on 05/30. In the picture you can see the 8 eggs, the upper strange long egg remained as it was - no chick came out of it.
During winter 1997/98 not a single Great Tit visited the nest box. And in spring 1998 no young bird left the nest: indeed the Great Tits built a nice nest, the female laid 8 eggs and began to breed. Unfortunately very irregular because she was seduced by the sounds of the male bird to leave the nest. 3 young birds were hatched, but they died after some days. Neither heat nor the want of nourishment could have been a reason for.
But from another nest box some young birds left the nest. One of them was hunted by a jay, but thanks to both parents the little bird survived its first longer flight. After this exhausting travel the young Great Tit sits in the garden. Because it is raining, it stands under the big leaf of a foxglove an waits there in the dry to be fed!
summer the nest has been taken out and the nest box is empty.
The 21st of november 1998, temperature of -8°C, the box is
examined by a Great Tit and since then every evening in twilight
the bird comes to the nest box to sleep in at night. Sometimes
it sits for a while on a limb in front of watching the surrounding.
|So what! 06th of march 1999, the Great Tit comes home sharp
at the beginning of the night, maybe a little bit early. And instead of sleeping, it begins to
clean up the nest box.
Old feathers and excrements are thrown in the corner or carried outside, it never did so before. But then it happens: the "right" great tit also comes into the nest box an a wild fight begins. Some minutes they pick each other with their sharp bills, they roll up and down, they beat with their wings and cry as loud as they can, no more lovely beeps.
The mic amplifier almost clipped.
Feathers tumble around like in a pillow-battle and the "intruder" gives up and speeds out through the little hole. I thought, none of the Great Tits could have survived this.
Only a feather carpet reminds of this wild battle.
HTML5 video, back then recorded quickly with a Hi8 videorecorder, in the beginning you see short-time stupidly the date and time onscreen out of sync.
The Great Tit spent some more nights in the nest box, then it was so warm she could sleep outside somewhere in a garden tree. Also in spring 1999 four little birds hatched and til autumn the nest box stayed empty.
On the 10th of november 1999 it was so cold again, that a Great Tit found her way into the nest box to stay over night - but this was definitly another Great Tit than before: it did a non-stop flight directly into the hole of the nest box, without an intermediate landing. Very good navigation. Until the 09th of march 2000 it slept every night in the box. The last nights it was so warm outside that vermin prevented her from sleeping. But soon it was cold again and the Great Tit was back again.
|1st of April 2000: moss inside the nest
box! Soon a new nest will be visible. Greetings from it to the rest of the World!
Seven eggs were in the nest and four little Great Tits left the box in the beginning of june. The four fledgelings stayed together for a long time, one could hear them always chirping around in the trees and the surrounding - as if they would talk to each other!
|Already the 2nd of November 2000 a Great Tit is roosting,
the night temperature has fallen to +2°C. And again this is another bird than last year's: this
one does two intermediate landings on the branches in front of the nest box.
Maybe it is one of last year's Youngsters. And again the bird arrives at twilight time.
Since I installed a light barrier, every movement is logged. Interesting, that the Great Tit visits the nest box sometimes over the day for some minutes, this shows other birds its territory.
The 3rd of December I made a "bed of straw" for the bird. First it sceptically pecked the straw blades flinging them around, but quickly got used to it and fell satisfied asleep.
|2001, January 9th: A moonstruck Great Tit?
Some nights ago after three or four hours of sleep the bird got restless and looked out of the hole to the moonlit landscape - expecting the dawn?
And this evening nothing could stop the bird: at 10 PM it left the nest box and wandered between the trees reaching a branch near the street light. It stared at the light as if this would be the bright day. Ten minutes later the bird vanished between the dark trees and wasn't seen at night since then. Inspite of that the nest box is guarded by the bird all over the day.
I think it will build its nest in my nest box.
2001, April 29th: After the Great Tits began to build a nest, I don't see them any more near the nest box. I think they build their nest somewhere else. In June I watched seven fledglings here in the garden looking every day for food!
(Images taken with the SONY Hi8 Video Camera TR-2200E, the moon with approx. 60x Digital Zoom and manual exposure, the Great Tit with 21x Optical Zoom)
|2001, November 2nd: some Great Tits are interested
in the nest box since the last days. Today the night temperature is fallen under
zero degrees celcius and a bird stays in the nest box over night. Again it is another
one than last year: it comes home, looks if everything is OK inside and vanishes
again for some minutes. After that the evening-ritual begins - cleaning the feathers,
pumping up, sticking the little head under the wings and falling asleep... until dawn
lures the Great Tit outside!
On the right part of the picture you can see a tail feather, the last days must have been a little quarrel about the nest box. The feather lies there as a trophy.
|2002, March 31st: Today the Great Tits begin to built their
nest and they will lay only 5 eggs during the next weeks but will raise all of them -
there is plenty of food this spring!
I took the two pictures on the right side at night on May 21st, the Great Tit and the little ones spend their last night in the nestbox, and on May 22nd spreading fuel for the fly-out...
And also this year I could watch the Great Tit Family for a long period when they visited the garden looking for food, you can't escape their funny high noises!
2002, October 19th: In the evening temperature is nearly 0°C and like every year a Great Tit is coming into the nest box to rest 'til dawn. Days before it sometimes had a look into...
|The 2007/03/10 a Great Tit begins to build a nest. Within some days it is ready and the bird
stays overnight, it seems to be the overnight guest of last winter.
On 2007/04/04 the Great Tit layed the first egg, with an interval of two days (very unusual) it layed a total of 6 eggs. Incubated unsuccessful, lasting for weeks.
From >2007/05/09 it layed again 6 eggs and on 2007/05/24 the first little bird is hatched!
On 2007/06/14 the three (all hatched ones) little birds fly out at 7:45 AM! The third one first hat to be lured by mom, before it left its home.
2008/02/20: the overnight winter Great Tit brings in material. When the first moss parts are cramed in another Great Tit will take posession of the nest box and they have a short but intense fight.
The bird builds the nest at her leisure. On 2008/04/09 I had to watch for a good moment when the Great Tit makes a short trip to clean the very dirty plexiglass in front of the camera. Unfortunately the nest box is a bit skewed, that's why the plexiglass can't be removed any more. I cleaned it carefully and kept an eye on the nest...
Some days later, 2008/04/13, the first egg is visible. And till 2008/04/18 each day another one. Six eggs have to be hatched.
|On 2008/05/02 four squabs are hatched, one day later two more. A short time
after that I count only 5 little birds.
Since the evening of 2008/05/09 no more Great Tit mom is sleeping in the nest! And the feeding intervals are noticeable longer. This means perhaps that something happens to the mom and the male has full responsibility...
|2008/05/12, the fledglings are all dead. Did also anything happen to the male?
Or gave it up? Was it too cold at night (+10°C)?
I eliminated the nest and buried the little birds in the garden...
The first blades of grass are laying on 2009/03/08 in the nestbox, one week later the building of the nest begins, I think it is the overnight Great Tit from last winter, it still stays overnight here. On 2009/03/24 (maybe two days earlier) it appears to be another Great Tit, perhaps it is the partner staying overnight. One day later the birds don't show up. No more than 2009/04/04 the builds continue building. "On schedule" the 2009/04/18 the first egg lays in the nest, two days later the second one and more three days the third egg - a long time-lag. And that's all, since 2009/04/25 no more Great Tit showed up...
|2009/05/14, a hungry Great Tit knocks at the window to beg for peanuts! More information an a short movie can be found here (only text).|
2009/04/06 Today the Blue Tits begin to build their nest and already on 2009/04/17 the first egg lays in the nest and each day another one. Since 2009/04/26 the Blue Tit is busy breeding 9 eggs!
2009/05/29 five young Blue Tits fly out at 7:00AM!, the other four are sadly deceased. Too less fodder? Too cold at night?
2009/07/23, the little Great Tits from the neighbourhood and even a young Blue Tit are happy about an extra income in terms of minced peanuts (of course from the animal specialist shop).
|The german journal natur+kosmos published in july 2009 an excellent interview with Prof. Peter Berthold
(unfortunately not on their server anymore, that's why I made this page available here):
July is a good month to begin: Peter Berthold explains why it is wise to feed birds - also in summer (only text).
And in fact the birds fly around in the garden hard-working to search for food, despite, or because of some extra peanuts!
2009/10/28 - First overnight stay, very late this year
2009/10/29 - Since today continuous visits by the Great Tit (exeption: 2009/10/30)
2010/02/21 - Today it sits in the right instead of the left corner
2010/03/23 - Since this evening no more overnight stay in the box
2010/03/24 - First nesting material is flown in
2010/04/10 - The bird stays overnight again
2010/04/18 - The first egg!
2010/04/26 - 4 eggs
2010/04/27 - 5 eggs, Great Tit begins to breed
2010/04/28 - 6 eggs
2010/05/09 - the little birds begin to hatch after noon
2010/05/11 - All 6 squabs hatched
2010/05/15 - 5 beaks visible, therefor appears one more egg
2010/05/18 - Yet 4 beaks, one looks quite weak
2010/05/19 - +2°C at night, only 3 young birds survive
2010/05/21 - Two little ones left, still cold at night
2010/05/22 - Great Tit doesn't make it bringing out the next dead one
2010/05/23 - Both parents take ideal care of the last young bird
2010/05/29 - At 1400 its mom welcomes the little bird in the near tree
2010/10/11 - Since today again continuous visits by a Great Tit!
2010/12/08 - The Blue Tit box is also occupied now, by a Great Tit
2010/12/11 - Short circuit by condensate, that's why starting transmission from the Blue Tit box
2011/03/04 - The Great Tit from the Blue Tit box is missing
2011/03/05 - Again transmission from the Great Tit box (short circuit patched)
2011/03/30 - It starts building the nest!
2011/04/12 - The first egg!
2011/04/14 - Two eggs
2011/04/17 - Three eggs
2011/04/19 - Four eggs
2011/04/20 - 5 eggs, beginning to breed
2011/04/21 - 6 eggs
2011/05/04 - Four little birds hatched in the morning
2011/05/05 - 5 young birds are waiting for food, one egg is left
2011/05/23 - In the late afternoon they all leave the nest!
2011/10/15 - Since this evening a Great Tit stays overnight
2012/03/14 - The first pieces of moss are mounted
2012/03/21 - Basic nest design recognizable
2012/04/09 - First egg
2012/04/10 - 2 eggs
2012/04/11 - 3 eggs
2012/04/12 - 4 eggs
2012/04/16 - 5 eggs
2012/04/17 - Sitting on the eggs since today
2012/04/28 - 4 birds hatched
2012/04/29 - All 5 are ready to be always hungrys
2012/05/16 - The smallest is frozen to death, probably because of the 0°C night temperature
2012/05/17 - The remaing 4 fly out in the morning at 0900!
2012/05/21 - Nestbox cleaned, 3 hours later moss inside again
2012/05/24 - A Great Tit stays overnight
2012/05/26 - First egg
2012/05/27 - 2 eggs
2012/05/28 - 3 eggs
2012/05/29 - 4 eggs, starts breeding!
2012/06/10 - First bird hatched
2012/06/11 - The next two birds hatched, but the forth egg remains closed
2012/06/28 - All birds are gone!
2012/10/20 - A new overnight guest
2013/03/22 - The Great Tit arrives no longer in the evening, a Blue Tit hangs around...
2013/04/12 - Blue Tit displaced, spring's starting and the Great Tit builds a nest
2013/04/16 - The nest is ready and the Great Tit stays overnight
2013/04/25 - First egg
2013/04/27 - 2 eggs
2013/05/05 - 8 eggs, the bird starts breeding!
2013/05/17 - The first bird hatched this afternoon
2013/05/18 - Seven birds hatched!
2013/05/26 - All seven are well, and it's raining
2013/05/27 - I'm counting yet six beaks
2013/05/28 - Yet five
2013/05/28 - Only two birdies alive
2013/05/31 - Just one young bird left
2013/06/02 - Now the last birdie died
Was it too cold? Too wet? Consequences on synthetic fiber in the nest originating from neighborhood rubbish?
In my opinion there was enough food for all, also the great-tit dad brought plenty of in. And the great-tit mom cared until the last minute, the birdie did not stop "crying" in the last night...
BBC television (in one of the Springwatch shows) told, if it's getting very cold during the night, the bird mom could not hold the too grown-up young ones warm enough.
2013/06/04 - In the other nestbox (for the Blue Tits) in the garden (the same?) great tits begin to build a nest!
2013/11/13 - In the Blue Tit nestbox a Great Tit stays overnight since today
2014/01/02 - The Great Tit nestbox was empty until today
2014/03/13 - A Great Tit brings in some moss
2014/03/28 - All full of moss
2014/03/30 - The nest is now comfortable, the Great Tit stays overnight
2014/04/03 - First egg
2014/04/04 - 2 eggs... one more each day!
2014/04/10 - 8 eggs, the bird starts breeding
2014/04/11 - 9 eggs
2014/04/23 - First birdy hatched!
2014/05/01 - Feathers visible, in the evening some eyes are open!
2014/05/03 - The birds are busy cleaning themselves
2014/05/12 - All nine youngsters fly out after eight o'clock
2014/10/29 - New camera module and new wooden base in the great tit nestbox
2014/12/28 - At -7°C the first accommodation of a great-tit
2015/03/09 - Moss for the nest!
2015/04/13 - The first egg!
2015/04/17 - Four eggs, great-tit begins to breed
2015/05/01 - The first birds hatched!
2015/05/02 - 6 young birds
2015/05/08 - Feathers are visible, the biggest bird opens its eyes
2015/05/12 - Yet 5 birds
2015/05/14 - Yet 4 birds
2015/05/17 - Yet 3 birds
2015/05/23 - All 3 young birds fly out, the last one waits a while
2015/05/20 - First overnight of a great-tit, next one at 09/27
2016/04/04 - Starting the nest
2016/04/09 - The first egg!
2016/04/10 - Every day another egg...
2016/04/17 - Nine eggs, the great-tit begins to breed
2016/04/28 - The first birds hatch!
2016/04/29 - 8 young birds
2016/05/03 - One half of them has gone
2016/05/17 - The three smallest did not survive the cold night
2016/05/19 - The strongest one made it and left the nestbox in the morning!
2016/05/21 - Nestbox cleaned, maybe another great-tit arrives?
2016/05/22 - Already another pair of great-tits moved in and starts building a nest!
2016/05/25 - Very quick, here is the first egg
2016/05/26 - Every day another egg...
2016/05/28 - Heavy hail did not destroy the nestbox, but my meteorological station
2016/06/01 - Eight eggs, the bird begins to breed
2016/06/12 - Seven litte birds hatched
2016/06/22 - Only three one left
2016/07/02 - In the morning, the baby chick is very weak. Mom stays about 20 minutes with it, then it dies. At half past eight the two other birds are lured out by their mom.
Great Tits on New Year's Eve
In New Year's Eve 2017/2018, I observed again the "overnight great-tits" in my two camera-equipped nest boxes and this time I recorded it. The quality of the two films is not great, this is just to see what fears the birds have to go through. Something like that probably feels a man in an air raid shelter when war rages above him!
Here the birds are sitting comfortable in a nestbox, what are the countless animals doing in the wild that night?
Unfortunately the video has no sound, because the recordings were made directly in the video server. But everyone can certainly imagine the non-stop salute...
The recordings start at 11:50PM and stop at 00:55AM.
Some other of my elder bird pictures
I took these pictures in january 1999 and thanks to my friend Toni with his Canon Slide Scanner I could digitize them with 2700 dpi. If you click on the pictures you can watch them in high resolution, cropped and resampled to 1024x768, so that the resolution is still about 2000 dpi.
The Blue Tits showed up more often than the Great Tits, a special pleasure was the little Robin.
ArticlesRead the very good article Das fliegende Klassenzimmer" (only text) from Michael Furmanek, HoerZu #28, 1999/07/09. Photos: Wolfgang Sauer.
Interested in the Kookaburra? You will get informed by the article "Haenschen klein" (only text) from Michael Furmanek, HoerZu #50, 1999/12/10. Photos: Wr. Taylor/Ardea + Ferrero-Labat/Auscape/Save-Bild.
Are Great Tit Fleas dangerous for man and how to clean up the nest box?
Prof. Mehlhorn, leader of the "Institut fuer Zoomorphologie, Zellbiologie und Parasitologie"
of the Heinrich-Heine-University in Duesseldorf, is Germany's parasite and insect specialist.
He told the following words:
"These Bird Fleas are in the first place annoying and could lead to strong reactions on
sensitiv people if they appear in big amount sucking blood.
Interesting links on the Great Tit and nest boxes
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