The box is mounted on the wall of the house just under the eves of a single story extension and so it is only about eight feet off the ground. There has been a box here for years and blue tits have successfully (mostly) nested in it year after year. In November 2015 I swapped the old box for one with a camera fitted in the apex of the roof. The camera is hard wired to a USB video converter plugged into my desktop. It records picture and sound, however, the sound is pretty awful so I have removed it in the clips below. See also the comment on colour below.
The inside of the box shortly after it was installed. It was then left mostly switched off with the occasional look to see if anything was roosting in it over winter. The camera is supposed to be a colour / infra red model but the colour leaves a lot to be desired; I can only guess that the low light reduces the colour effectiveness.
Late December and the first signs of life. Droppings in the bottom of the box!
A month later and it was obvious something was making regular visits, if only for toiletry purposes. However, whenever I looked at night, expecting to see a sleeping bird in the box, I saw nothing but more droppings.
I managed to catch a blue tit having a look around in January but nothing more than that. Maybe scouting for a nest site and I thought prospective nesters would be put off by the state of the place with all those droppings around. But the state of the place was only going to get worse... I love the way the bird here looks straight into the camera as if to say "what's that?" before leaving the box.
By March it really did look a bit of a mess in there with lots more droppings and downy feathers. Frequent looks at the camera on the PC revealed nothing roosting, just more droppings day by day. At this point I decided to set the camera recording in late afternoon in the hope that I would catch a bird coming in to roost.
I ran the camera for an hour and got this 6s clip. The bird was roosting in the loft where the camera was, by squeezing in beside the camera! Good choice because, if the camera was on, it would be nice and warm in there. Not that I had it on very often or for very long.
By the 2nd of April, I was wondering whether I should clean out the box; would any bird want to build a nest on top of that? I decided to leave it and as it turned out I need not have been worried.
By the 5th of April, it looked like this. Something had been doing a bit of a clean up. Not me!
And here is the proud nest builder, a female (presumably) blue tit. I was alerted to activity in the box by the accumulation of dried droppings appearing on the floor outside the box. Having ejected the mess from the floor the bird is now in the process of pecking furiously at the floor and removing small wood shavings. It has also used some of the shavings to block up the drainage holes. Obviously she has not read the RSPB guide to nest boxes which says drainage holes are required.
It now looks clean with a liberal sprinkling of sawdust. I await the nest building....
After more vigorous floor excavation, nesting material started to be brought in and here you can see the blue tit pushing the material to the outside to form the nest; even though there is so little material to push. This was taken on April 10th.
The next day and more material was being brought in; mostly grass and moss.
I was then away for 7 days and came back expecting to see a completed nest but saw this on April 18th. It appears that the nest has been abandoned; with no obvious signs of current activity. I am suspicious of next door's cat or maybe the cold weather has called for a pause in the nest building. Strangely, I also have a box frequented by Great Tits at the bottom of my garden which was in full swing when I left but that too has gone quiet. There is a pair of Blue Tits in and around the garden but I don't know where they are nesting. The Blue Tit box is still being used as a roost; I saw the bird come in to it's usual loft position yesterday evening (April 19th). We will have to wait and see.