Heart shaped nest

A bird nest on a moss blanket.

The nest, which developed its distinctive heart-shape after being removed from the nest box, contained three pale speckled eggs that had failed to hatch last spring.

National Trust rangers suspect that the eggs belonged to a pair of Blue Tits or Great Tits. The birds were either killed by a predator or had been disturbed and abandoned the eggs, the conservation charity said.


The tiny nest, which at around 13.5cm long is about the length of an iPhone 6, was made using horse hair, grass, feathers and moss.  


It was uncovered in one of 65 nest boxes that have been installed in the woods at Hardcastle Crags with the help of Calderdale Bird Group. Groups of three volunteers take it in turns to scale ladders in order to check and record the boxes.

This photo really shows off the different colours of the materials in the nest.
Heart shaped nest on a white background.


By identifying the nests’ builders, rangers and volunteers are able to estimate trends in the breeding bird population – directing how rangers manage the woodland valleys.
Natalie Pownall, National Trust Academy Ranger at Hardcastle Crags, said: “Where eggs have been abandoned, disturbance is the most likely cause. The adult bird can get flustered and if attacked can even damage her eggs in the surprise attack.


“Busy blue tits lay up to an egg a day at the height of the season. It’s an ordeal that requires a huge amount of energy, which is why you’ll see the birds stocking up on fatty foods like peanuts and sunflower seeds in your garden in March.”
With Valentine’s Day looming, birds at Hardcastle Crags are busy pairing up for the upcoming season.

Gently holding the heart shaped nest.
Holding the heart shaped nest so carefully.
" Our female blue tits are looking for the perfect partner and home to raise her young. Her ideal Romeo will need to bring her insects and other grubs to eat whilst she’s brooding on the nest. Once born, her chicks will need to eat on average 100 caterpillars a day just to stand a chance at survival. "
- Natalie Pownall, National Trust Academy Ranger

We’re not sure what happened to the pair that made last year’s nest. But we’re hoping that this spring brings no repeat of last year’s heartbreak.

Upcoming events

Guided Walk: Blake Dean and Heptonstall Moor Walk

Sat 21 Oct 2017
10:00-13:00
This walk across the Pennine Way takes us to sites associated with the route of the old railway line which was once used when the dams were built. Expect steep climbs and great views on this 7 mile walk.

Build a mini raft - 50 Things to do before you're 11 ¾

Mon 30 Oct 2017
12:00-15:00
Test your mini raft building skills this autumn when you join in with our raft building activities.

Create a mini broomstick - 50 Things to do before you're 11 ¾

Tue 31 Oct 2017
12:00-15:00
Make sure you're prepared for Hallowe'en this month by making your very own mini broomstick.

Be a ranger - family volunteering

Wed 01 Nov 2017
11:00-14:00
The outdoor team at Hardcastle Crags invite you to roll up your sleeves, become rangers for an afternoon and help us give nature a helping hand.

Cook on a Campfire - 50 things to do before you're 11 ¾

Wed 01 Nov 2017
12:00-14:00
Learn how to make a campfire and cook up a feast with our volunteer.

Map and Compass - 50 Things to do before you're 11 ¾

Thu 02 Nov 2017
12:00-15:00
Explore the ancient woodland at Hardcastle Crags the traditional way - using a map and compass.