Monday, April 24, 2017

Last Leg of Incubation

All continues to progress normally at the nest and incubation continues with no problems or drama! We are now beginning the last leg of incubation.  As we get closer to hatch we can expect to see a change of activity with the adults.  During the majority of incubation the adult sits tight on the eggs.  But once the eggs are close to hatching, the eggs need less uniform heat so we may see the adults up off of the eggs more often.

The entire hatching process takes quite a long time during which the chicks will begin chirping and pecking at the inside of the egg as they begin their long journey to the outside world.  The chick will work then rest, then work some more, then rest over the course of many hours.  The adults will be able to hear and feel these vocalizations and vibrations underneath them and will react.  Instead of mostly sitting tight and still on the eggs, we can expect the adult to get up off the eggs more often, look at the eggs, as well as settle back down on them tight.  The adult may even sit overall higher on the eggs as a result of the activity occurring underneath him/her.

We are also headed into a stretch of warmer and sunny weather so we can expect the tending adult to shade the eggs if it is particularly sunny and warm.  This keeps the eggs at the correct and uniform temperature so they do not overheat.  The adult may pant during these episodes but that is normal and the way that they cool themselves.

Hatch is predicted around May 1 (give or take) so as soon as later this week we could begin to see the changes in behavior of the adults as described.  Unfortunately, we won't have audio to help us monitor for chirping.  And, don't forget--with this being the male's first time breeding, it is possible that the eggs may not even be fertile.  But, we'll hope for the best and perhaps by this time next week I'll have "egg-citing" news to report!

P.S. The ledgecam is down this morning but we hope to have it restored soon.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Audio Issues Terminal

Last week we were able to restore the sound temporarily but unfortunately, the equipment that we replaced was not what was causing the problem and it wasn't long until we lost sound again.  All indications are the age of our audio cards is likely the culprit.  We had hoped to have switched out to new computers prior to this season but were not able to accomplish that and now aging technology is not being kind.  Therefore, I'm sorry to report that we will not be able to get the audio working again without risking losing the streaming.  Given the choice, we'd rather have video with no sound then nothing.  By next season we plan a complete overhaul on the system and we've already begun working in that direction.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

On a positive note, all continues to go great during incubation!  Although, sometimes an egg is left uncovered but that mistake is quickly remedied!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Sound Fix Tomorrow (Hopefully!)

All is going well in the nest and the count remains at 4 eggs.  This week Columbus should see some warm temps and sunny days. In conditions like this the nest ledge will be very warm and so sometimes the adult falcon will actually shade the eggs to keep them from overheating--so don't be alarmed if you tune in and see a falcon standing over the eggs instead of in the typical incubation position.

Viewers might also see the incubating adult panting when the sun is shining directly into the nest box.  This is normal and how the falcon cools itself in the heat.

The eggs hatch in about 33 days.  Counting from the 3rd egg (which is usually when true incubation begins) would mean an expected hatch on or about May 1.
Now that incubation is in full swing we will attempt to install replacement equipment that will hopefully give us audio again.  Tomorrow morning (Tuesday, Apr 11) our crew will be working on that so it is possible that the camera streams will be down temporarily.  Planning this work early in the week will give us some time and flexibility to further troubleshoot any issues that arise with these adjustments.  All of the work will be done inside the building with the computer and other equipment so the falcons will not be disturbed in any way. 
Hopefully, fans are getting better at telling the male from the female.  Here's a quiz - which falcon is this? 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Additional Size Comparison Pics

During incubation, the adult falcon will part its breast feathers in order to obtain skin-to-egg contact to help keep the eggs at the proper temperature for development.  For every action there is a reaction and if you watch closely, you can tell when this is happening.  When you see the adult wiggling and its back feathers raising up while it is settling down on the eggs, that is actually the opposing reaction to the falcon spreading those breast feathers.  So even though we can't directly see the skin-to-egg contact, we know it is happening by what the back feathers are doing.  

Here are a couple of additional views of the adults incubating to again show how much larger Durand is than the male.  She really fills up the nest box and rarely can you see the gravel by the back wall when she is on the eggs!
Don't forget to check out the ODNR, Division of Wildlife's website for more information on peregrine falcons!


Monday, April 03, 2017

Male/Female Comparison Tips

Incubation is well underway!  It is possible there could be an additional egg - we'll know in a day or two.  For the next 30-some days both the male and Durand will take turns keeping the eggs at a uniform temperature.  We'll write more on the technique of incubation in another post but in the meantime, here are some tips on how to tell the 2 falcons apart.

In my experience with all of the different peregrines that have nested here since 1994, these 2 individuals are the most difficult to tell apart!  Fans will really have to look closely.  I'm continuing to collect various views for comparison but for now will start with the position of the incubating adult facing out.  Some of the tips below may not be applicable depending on which way the falcon is facing but this is a good place to start.

Probably the best field mark to rely on is overall size.  Even though the male is large for a male, he is still substantially smaller than Durand.  So far what has worked for me is just noticing how much space inside the nest box the falcon takes up:  [CLICK on the photos to enlarge]
Even if the falcon is incubating in another position than pictured here, notice how much the falcon's body fills up the area of the nest box (or not, in the case of the male) to help tell which is which.
Another subtle difference I noticed is how the male holds his wings when he is on the eggs:
The male has already established a pattern of readily covering the eggs while Durand is away.  His frequency on the eggs in addition to Durand's will give fans plenty of opportunity to compare and study the differences throughout the day.  

Sunday, April 02, 2017

4th Egg on April 1 - no joke!

The 4th egg was laid Saturday, April 1 about 9:30 a.m.!  We now have a full clutch!
Technology did play an April Fool's joke on me, though.  I was checking on and off through the day but each time only saw 3 eggs because for whatever reason, the page hadn't refreshed for me.  It wasn't until late last night that I figured out what had happened otherwise this report would have been posted yesterday!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Ledgecam Note + Will We See Another Egg?

As of Friday morning 3/31/17 the live streaming from the ledgecam is down.  Initial troubleshooting has not resolved the problem so regrettably, it will probably be down until next week.  At least we do have the nestcam stream!

Otherwise, all is going well at the nest!  The 3 eggs are being incubated by both the male and Durand.  "Will we see another egg?" is what many are wondering!  Four is the usual number of eggs that make up a full clutch so it is likely another egg will be laid sometime this weekend.  Now that the adults are incubating it may be a little tricky to determine when the next egg is laid unless it is done so during daylight viewing.  It is very possible that we may have to wait until the birds change places on the nest to discover that there is a 4th egg.  Or, they may stop at 3! Time will tell.

Now that they are in incubation mode, the main role of the male is to bring food for the female.  He will also take his turn on the eggs while she is away eating.  I'll repeat from the other day in case it was missed that it is really difficult to tell the male and Durand apart!  I am working on some comparison photos and will post some tips soon.  In the meantime, the easiest way to tell one from the other is to look for their metal leg bands as they come and go.  The male does not have a band on his right leg.  He only has a leg band on his left leg - it is a black over red band with the code 30/Z on it.  Durand has a band on each leg - her right leg has a silver USFWS band and her left leg has an all black band with the code 32/X on it.