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Today I am writing a special Chatterbox "New flash" as this morning the Birdbox team realised that one of our nest boxes has had most of the chicks removed and another left dead. This has been very shocking to see as this nest was doing so well.
I have written in Chatterbox about life cycles and food chains. I have written about predators and carnivores. The destruction of this nest is very sad. However, this is nature's way of making sure that another young family, perhaps a weasel, stoat, woodpecker or squirrel has food for its young. At this time of year the growing offspring all need protein - "meat" to eat.
The good news is that some birds, like the Blue tit and Great tit do use are human gardens and schools because they do have less predators than a woodland. The nest boxes that we put up are also safer for the wild birds. This does not protect all of the nests as we have found out today.
Some birds live in great big colonies - like gulls, gannets and guillemots - all living together side by side. This means that there is safety from lots of birds giving warning calls. Of course these massive nesting areas will attract predators!
So, to finish off I must say that I don't mind if wild animals take other wild animals to get food. I have watched Peregrines dive and Sparrowhawks swoop to catch live food - other birds! They always make me say "Wow". I remember every Barn Owl that I've ever seen - their beauty stays in my mind. What does worry me is animals that humans have let go in the Countryside - for example terrapins in ponds and cats in gardens. Most of all the greatest threat to all our wildlife is habitat destruction. Humans are the cause of much habitat destruction - it might be building homes, using strong chemicals or climate change. So, don't be too upset by the loss of this nest - it is nature in action.
The best thing human being can do is to love and care for it - I think that everyone in the Birdbox project will be great at that!
Images: baby in the nest (top) and sparrowhawk (bottom)
Protecting your nests - a message from the RSPB
Nestbox predators include cats, squirrels, rats, mice, stoats, weasels, woodpeckers and, in case of open fronted boxes, members of the crow family. As predators mainly hunt early in the morning, most people are unaware of their presence.
A metal plate fixed around the entrance hole may deter woodpeckers and squirrels, while barbed wired, gorse or rose clippings above and below the box will give some protection against most mammals, such as cats. Various commercially available deterrents may also help reduce predation.