Nick Baker's Nesting Favourites – No. 4
"The classic cup shape is what might first come to mind when we hear the word 'nest'. But several birds make nests that are more covered than this. Alongside the long-tailed tit, there's also the dipper, wood warbler, magpie and wren that go in for a more structured approach. The latter is one of those that turns up in all sorts of unexpected places around the garden. Just like the bird itself, they tend to have a mousey feel to them.
The nest is a grapefruit-sized cluster of grass, moss and leaves. It's hidden away deep in cover, in the corner of sheds, behind bits of tin leaning against walls, in dense ivy, on a bank and even on the ground.
This ball is accessed via a small hole, usually somewhere towards the bottom of the sphere. The reason gardeners discover so many is that the male builds not one but several. He will then, like a diminutive lovestruck estate agent, tour around with a female that has shown interest in his explosive voluminous song. If she’s impressed enough to stick around, she’ll choose one and take over with the interior decoration, lining the nest with moss, feathers and hair.
They can have two generations a year, and each nest can spit out 5-6 fledglings. The eggs are tiny - about 17mm x 13mm and white, with a variable amount of speckling concentrated at the blunt end."
The males are busy. Singing their explosive, exaltation of a song, trying to attract an equally diminutive female to him. He’s also nest building not one, but several. These scruffy ball shaped, enclosed nests are hidden in dense vegetation and tangles.
He’ll be showing a female around his various potential houses. If she likes one of them, she’ll stay and start doing up the interior to her liking. Once the nest is lined she’ll start egg laying. 5-6 tiny white eggs, speckled usually at one end with brown.
A couple of weeks after the start of incubation the eggs hatch.
Usually the peak month for the chicks to fledge. Look out for them, often still with Yellow corners to their bill, They’ll often return to the home nest to roost.
If they are an early pair they may have another go and repeat the process.