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Marsh Tit boxes

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Old Thursday 28th October 2004, 16:22   #1
KnockerNorton
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Marsh Tit boxes

Hi all,

I'm trying to get Marsh Tits (specifically) to use nestboxes, but with little success. In fact, none! I've positioned pairs of standard-sized tit boxes with 26mm holes in Marsh Tit territories (and near previous natural nest sites), but they're still ignored. Blue Tits often take one box, hence the boxes in pairs about 7m apart to leave one for the Marsh, but they're still preferring natural holes.

The habitat is broadleaved woodland with c.25 pairs of Marsh Tits. There are lots of natural nest sites in old coppiced ash and hazel, but I need to get at the nestlings for ringing.

Anyone for any ideas/experience?
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Old Saturday 27th November 2004, 17:33   #2
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Marsh Tits

Quote:
Originally Posted by Offord
Hi all,

I'm trying to get Marsh Tits (specifically) to use nestboxes, but with little success. In fact, none! I've positioned pairs of standard-sized tit boxes with 26mm holes in Marsh Tit territories (and near previous natural nest sites), but they're still ignored. Blue Tits often take one box, hence the boxes in pairs about 7m apart to leave one for the Marsh, but they're still preferring natural holes.

The habitat is broadleaved woodland with c.25 pairs of Marsh Tits. There are lots of natural nest sites in old coppiced ash and hazel, but I need to get at the nestlings for ringing.

Anyone for any ideas/experience?
I also have masses of Marsh Tits here and although they come to the feeders all the time in winter they never linger to feed. They always take the food away to eat and then come back for more. I have had Blue Tit, Nuthatch, Great Tit, Tree Sparrow and even Common Redstart using my boxes but the Marsh Tits have never shown the slightest interest in any sort of box. I suspect that MT is just not into boxes at all... Let me know if you ever have any success however...

Mike
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Old Saturday 27th November 2004, 17:39   #3
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Much the same here - abundant at the feeders throughout the year, though haven't had any in the nestboxes in the garden (12 boxes available). Now planning out a nestbox scheme for a woodland that I have acquired - again plenty of Marsh Tits at the feeders already on site, so I hope to get them in the boxes in spring. Having 180 boxes made for me and will be placing from Jan/feb onwards - hoping to get Marsh Tits in particular, 10 of the boxes will have slightly smaller holes (25mm rather than 28mm) as this should prevent access by Great Tits (the most abundant member of the tribe out here). Will let you know how I get on in the spring.
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Old Wednesday 1st December 2004, 10:39   #4
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I've got a sneaky feeling that normal boxes are just too roomy for them. The natural holes I've had access to have had narrow entrance passages (almost a tunnel) leading to a narrow chamber. It might be some sort of defensive thing, going for 'tricky' holes that most predators can't access.

I've thought about putting a block of wood with a hole on the outside of the entrance to elongate the entrance into a tunnel-type thing. A worker in Sweden does this to prevent pine martens ripping out the nest and he gets lots of Marsh Tits in his boxes. There might be fewer natural holes in his study area though, and his Marsh tits (and yours Bittern & Joe) are the nominate race whereas mine are the British/NW France race dresseri. Whether that makes a difference, who knows?!

Very frustrating, whatever it is!
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Old Wednesday 1st December 2004, 10:45   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Offord
I've got a sneaky feeling that normal boxes are just too roomy for them. The natural holes I've had access to have had narrow entrance passages (almost a tunnel) leading to a narrow chamber. It might be some sort of defensive thing, going for 'tricky' holes that most predators can't access.

Very frustrating, whatever it is!
Hi Offord,

I don't think it is a case of the boxes being unsuitable it is just that blue tits and great tits are far too dominant. It is a similar situation with willow and coal tits. All species will examine the boxes but even the blue tit can be aggressive enough to keep larger birds away.

Ian
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Old Wednesday 1st December 2004, 11:48   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian Peters
Hi Offord,

I don't think it is a case of the boxes being unsuitable it is just that blue tits and great tits are far too dominant. It is a similar situation with willow and coal tits. All species will examine the boxes but even the blue tit can be aggressive enough to keep larger birds away.

Ian
Indeed they do! My blue tits out compete great tits for my boxes. I've got 10 boxes -with this summer's count at 7 blue tits, 1 great tit and two empty boxes. Hole size doesn't see to matter too much.
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Old Wednesday 1st December 2004, 16:06   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Offord
... (and yours Bittern & Joe)...
Who's Joe?
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Old Thursday 2nd December 2004, 11:08   #8
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Oops, sorry, Jon, erm Jed, Jos! Looking but not seeing, if you know what I mean! I could say it was a mis-type with the E adjacent to the S, but that would be a fib :o)

The boxes are up in pairs (5 m or so apart) for the very reason of letting the blue tits have one and leaving one for the marsh. This works in Sweden, apparently, but mine just aren't interested. They even used a natural hole next to a nestbox, just to stick their tongues out at me!
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Old Monday 6th December 2004, 18:51   #9
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A bit of *googling* found this (not sure about the date, presume it's a typo),the third paragraph is the relevant one, maybe they can offer some advice.
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