Nest boxes at st andrews botanics

Nest box research

If you visit the garden you’re likely to see bird boxes that look like this one. They can also be seen at other locations around St Andrews. These are part of a St Andrews University research project. You can find out more by visiting the group’s webpage

Look out for blue tits with coloured rings on their legs. These birds have been ringed as part of the research and it’s useful for the team to know where these birds are and what they are up to. If you see a colour-ringed blue tit, you can let the research group know using this form.

Update Wednesday 19th May: If you have been watching the box you will have noticed that our bird is no longer sitting on the nest. The eggs are still there, underneath some of the nest lining but at this point it looks like she has abandoned the nest for this season. There are lots of reasons that this might happen and hopefully she is still alive and well and will live to breed another year. We’ll clean out the nest box eventually so that it can be used next year.

Update Wednesday 12th May: Our female has laid 4 eggs and has started incubating them. The eggs were laid one each day on the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th of May. While the eggs are laid on different days, they only start to develop once incubation begins, so the chicks should all be a similar size. It’s a small clutch of eggs for a great tit: it’s common for them to lay as many as 12 eggs. 

 You can read more about the incubation phase of nesting at the British Trust for Ornithology’s website here.

Update Wednesday 22nd April: If you’ve seen a bird in the box, it’s probably the female, as they tend to do all the nest-building. She will also take on all the incubation duties once the eggs are laid, with the male visiting to feed her. We haven’t seen any sign of eggs yet but it could happen any day now. She’s still spending the night in the box – take a look after about 7pm to catch her snoozing.

Update Tuesday 13th April: We’ve created a form so that you can share your observations with us. We hope to be able to build a timeline of the birds’ activity throughout the nesting period. Follow the link opposite to submit your observations.

Update Monday 12th April: Some finer materials are appearing in the nest. Could this be the beginning of a nest lining?

Thursday 8th April: The camera will be down for a while today due to electrical work being carried out at the Gatehouse. It should be up again by this evening. Nest building is well underway. Most activity happens in the morning but night time is also a good time to visit the page as one of the birds is spending nights roosting in the box.

Update Sunday 3rd April: A great tit spent some time roosting in the box last night and this morning there have been several visits bringing nesting material.

We’ve put a camera inside one of our nest boxes. At this time of year, birds are ‘prospecting’ – investigating a range of potential nesting sites before starting to build a nest. We’ve had some sightings of great tits and blue tits popping their heads into the box. They might not use it this year but we are excited to see what happens.

This nest box and camera are part of the Green Corridors project, funded by NatureScot.

Help us find out more about our Great Tits

Have you been watching the box? Thanks to everyone who sent us observations of nest-building behaviour. 

Catch up on nest box highlights with Bob

Our friends in the BioBlitz team are helping us keep track of what’s happening in the nest box. We’ll follow the life of this Great Tit family through this nesting season, with a new video each week.

This year’s summer BioBlitz will be the 4th and 5th of June. Find out more about it here and look out for Bioblitz activities at St Andrews Botanic Garden.