Sunday, 22 May 2011
Yesterday was a worry for us as there were many times in the day when there didn't seem to be much sign of life the nest box. However, it now seems that the nest material has been undercut at its base and that the chicks are staying tucked under the overhanging edges out of view for most of the day. The nest is very deep now and even Kate almost disappears when she sits in it.
This morning I've counted only six chicks popping up for food, and so we might have lost another one since Friday. If it is staying under the overhang, it's not getting fed and there was a very small chick yesterday which always seemed to miss out at feeding time.
I used the internet to investigate what might be happening to the missing chicks and here are some possibilities: the nest might have been raided by a Magpie, Crow or even a Woodpecker, but this seems unlikely as the hole seem too small for them to get in. Fleas might suck a chick's blood and cause it to die, but Kate is constantly checking the nest and removing unwanted stuff. Another male bird might have entered and killed a chick to establish it's territory or gain control of the nest. But what seems most likely is that the last born chicks are much smaller and weaker than the first born and they can't compete for food when the parents present it to them.
There's nothing much we can do about any of this except to let nature take it's course - infant mortality is very high in birds and that's one reason why they lay so many eggs.