How to record a nesting attempt

To collect the most useful information about a nesting attempt, it should be visited at regular intervals, ideally every 4-5 days, until no live eggs or nestlings remain in the nest. Below is an illustration of a nest being followed from nest-building to fledging*, with observations being entered into IPMR. If a nest is found at a later stage than the example below—for example with hatched chicks—simply start monitoring from that point. Any record consisting of two or more visits is of value.

The illustration below only shows how to complete the 'visits' section of a nest record. For full instructions on completing a record and for details on the survey methodology, please see the 

PDF icon NRS quick-start guide (772.27 KB)
. Expanded information is given in the
PDF icon NRS Handbook (1.59 MB)
. All nest recorders are expected to register and to familiarise themselves with the methodology and the Code of Conduct before doing any nest recording.

*For the sake of brevity, the example below only shows visits made every two weeks, not the recommended 4-5 days.

Visit 1

When first inspected on 15 April, the nest looks complete but there are no eggs. The date and time of visit is entered on the top row of the visit details section (right) and the
PDF icon nest-building code (57.9 KB)
 N4 is selected, as the nest is complete but unlined.

Visit 2

Returning on 28 April, an adult Blue Tit flies off the nest, revealing a clutch of eggs. The date and time is recorded on the next row and a count of the eggs is entered in the 'Live' eggs column. Had the eggs not been clearly visible, an approximate count could have been entered, e.g. ‘13+’.  FN is given to show that a sitting female had been on the nest.

Visit 3

On 12 May, some of the eggs are hatched. A count of the chicks and the remaining live eggs are both put down (as there is no evidence that any eggs are dead).
PDF icon Status codes (57.9 KB)
 NA (chicks naked) and BL (chicks blind) are given to describe the appearance of the chicks. These codes help determine the likely hatching date.

Visit 4

On 25 May, 11 young are still in the nest. Code FM (feathers medium) is used to describe their appearance because the primary feathers of the largest chick are 1/3 emerged from their sheaths. There is also an egg present but it must be dead as eggs hatch within a few days of each other, so 1 is added to the 'Dead' eggs column.

Visit 5

By 8 June, the nest is empty, so an 'outcome' status code is used to indicate that the nesting attempt has finished. Here, the code NE is selected as the nest has every appearance of having fledged young successfully: complete and undisturbed and containing feather scales and droppings from large young.