Devon church closes its doors and silences the bells to protect nesting blue tits

22 June 2018

COLIN SARGENT/SWNS

The lectern in which a pair of blue tits nested

The lectern in which a pair of blue tits nested

A CHURCH in Devon shut its doors to the public and silenced its bells for two weeks last month to protect a pair of blue tits and their eight offspring who had nested inside the lectern.

The birds were discovered by Tony Batten, a parishioner of St Thomas à Becket, Sourton, one of 14 churches in the Northmoor Team Ministry in the diocese of Exeter, when he heard cheeping while carrying out routine maintenance.

The Team Vicar, the Revd Adrian Brook, explained: “This time of year, we are very aware of birds getting trapped in the church, especially swallows, because they are looking for nests, and we thought the blue tits had got stuck.

“But they were coming in from a tiny bit of broken window in the tower, and then through the screen and the ringing chamber, into the nave, until they found the lectern, which they obviously felt was an ideal nesting box.”

 

The PCC eventually decided to close the church to visitors and cancel sung eucharist and bell-ringing practice so that the eight newly hatched chicks would not be disturbed until they had fully grown and flown the nest.

“We left the church open for a while,” Mr Brook said, “but visitors were coming in thinking the parents were stuck, and waving about, getting in a tizz trying to get them out. So eventually we had to lock the church in the day, and adjusted our service pattern until they had fledged.”

The said morning holy communion services continued, and the birds were blessed after each service. “When we were doing the responses, we could hear the birds cheeping along, and then they would go quiet.”

COLIN SARGENT/SWNSA close up through the lectern showing the chicks

The chicks were eventually coaxed out of the building by Mr Batten and a local wildlife photographer, Colin Sargent, after five hours, last week.

The congregation did not mind adapting their routine for the birds, Mr Brook said. “God is in nature: we are all part of that; we share this planet with all sorts of life, and we should care for it as much as we do other things. So we thought it was only right to help.”

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