Blue Tit Life Cycle: From Nest Building to Flight

Blue Tit Life Cycle: From Nest Building to Flight

Like many birds, the blue tit is in a race to find a mate, lay eggs and raise chicks while there is plenty of food around. Blue tits typically raise just one brood of eggs each spring.

Many other birds like robins and blackbirds for example can raise more than one brood each year, but the little blue tit is only able to raise one brood. 

How Many Chicks Does A Blue Tit Have?

We often get asked how many chicks does a blue tit have? The number of chicks a blue tit has will vary but a blue tit can lay a clutch of around 14 eggs over a 2 week period. Each egg weighs around 1 gram which is roughly 10% of the mother’s weight (10 grams).

There have been reported clutches of up to 16 eggs, but the average is between 8 to 12 eggs.

How Long Does It Take For A Blue Tit To Build A Nest?

Blue tits begin searching for a safe site to build a nest in February. They take a long time finding the exact location that suits them for raising their young. 

They need a clear flight path to the nest’s entrance which needs to be fairly difficult for any predators to access. They like to nest in breeding boxes or tree holes which are around 6 ft above the ground for this reason. 

During this time they also need to find a breeding partner. Once the site is found and the mate chosen, the female builds the nest on her own, with no help from the male.

So, how long does it take for a blue tit to build a nest? The amount of time it takes a blue tit to build a nest can vary between a few days to between one to two weeks. It all depends on finding the right materials to line the nest with.

These materials include; moss, feathers, fur and wool. The nesting material is formed into a cup shaped base.

All of this nest building activity typically takes place in April. Sometimes earlier if there is an unseasonably warm spell.

When Do Blue Tits Lay Their Eggs?

Blue Tit Eggs

Blue tits tend to lay their eggs to coincide with the time that trees burst into leaf. As this is the time when caterpillars are plentiful to feed the young blue tits. 

So when do blue tits lay their eggs? Blue tits tend to lay their eggs in early May and the female will lay one egg per day and she won’t start to incubate the eggs until she has finished laying. Which means that the first egg can lie dormant for two weeks before the embryo starts to develop.

Then in mid May the mother will pluck feathers from her abdomen to create a bare patch to incubate all of the eggs that she’s laid. She will stay on the eggs for around two weeks by which time they will be ready to hatch.

All the time she is sitting on the eggs, the male will be supplying her with food. However, she will still need to leave the nest often during the day to feed herself as well.

The chicks generally hatch towards the end of May and are born naked and blind. They need to be kept warm which means the female will often be found sitting on the young chicks.

Both parents take turns to hunt food and feed the chicks which is no little feat. Each chick requires around 100 caterpillars every day. This means if their clutch all survived, they would need to find around 1200 to 1400 caterpillars every day just to feed the chicks.

Why Do Some Blue Tits Abandon Their Nests When Full Of Eggs?

Just because a blue tit nest appears to be abandoned, this is not always the case. It could be that both parents are away from the nest finding food.

However, in some cases, if the male has been killed, the female knows she will not be able to care for a clutch of eggs on her own. It’s a cruel statistic in nature that single parent blue tit families don’t survive anywhere nearly as well as two parent blue tit families.

What Should You Do If A Baby Blue Tit Falls From The Nest?

If you find a baby blue tit on the floor near the nesting box, you might be wondering what to do if a baby bluetit falls out of the nest?  The best thing you can do is leave it alone.

Fledgling birds should be left where they are in the care of their parents. It’s a sad fact of life that often human intervention actually causes more harm than good. The parents often abandon a fledgling that has been contaminated by human interference.

How Fast Can A Blue Tit Fly?

Male Blue Tit

As the chicks eat, they grow feathers, develop their eyesight and by early June they’re ready to start flying. The parents call them from outside the nesting box and each chick will stick their head out.

Then encouraged by their parents, each chick will make their first flight. This is usually short lived and the chicks will end up on the nearest perch from the box.

After fledging, the young blue tits will spend a few weeks with their parents who will still be feeding them. Their parents will be teaching them how to find food and also how to avoid predators.

So, how fast can a blue tit fly when fully grown and fledged? The average top speed of a fully grown blue tit is around 17 miles per hour (29 kmh).

How Long Does A Blue Tit Live?

Many of the clutch will not survive their first year in fact it’s estimated that ⅔ of the clutch will die before reaching 1 year old. But of those that do, they typically start breeding in the spring after they have hatched.

If you’re wondering how long blue tits live? The average lifespan of a blue tit in the wild is around 3 years. However, there are exceptions to this with some blue tits reaching an age of more than 10 years recorded from ringing data.

Do The Young Blue Tits Leave The Area After Fledging?

The majority of blue tits don’t migrate in the winter with most tending to stay in the area or very close to where they were hatched. During cold winter months these young blue tits will huddle together in trees and bushes to keep warm.

Some will use vacant nest boxes to shelter from the cold, wet weather. With many using those same nesting boxes to bring up their first clutch the following spring.

Frequently Asked Questions

How high should a Bluetit nest box be?

A blue tit nesting box should be positioned around 6 to 7 feet above the ground and placed in some sort of natural cover.

How long does it take for a blue tit to build a nest?

Blue tits can build a nest in just a few days, but the average build time is between one to two weeks.

How fast can a blue tit fly?

A fully grown blue tit can fly at an average of around 17 mph (29 kmh).

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