Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Signs of hatching...what to watch for

Hard to believe it's been a month since we saw the first egg in the nest. Incubation takes about 33 days, however it is difficult to predict when the birds actually begin setting full time. Counting from the date of the 4th egg, 33 days is Thursday, May 3rd, so that is when we predict hatching to occur. However, it isn't an exact science thus that prediction may be off by a few days. Don't be surprised if hatch begins earlier and don't panic if hatch is late! And, remember that the eggs won't all hatch at once - they will hatch over a couple of days time.

Given that, here are some signs to help tell when hatch is close. A day or so prior to hatching the chicks will begin vocalizing from inside the egg and pecking to work their way out. The adult birds can hear the chirping and feel the vibration and so their behavior will change. While throughout the majority of incubation they have set tight on the eggs they will become very restless. They will get up and look down at the eggs more often, settle back down, and be up looking again within a short time. There is a microphone inside the nest box (black circle in the upper right back corner). I can't say for sure if we will be able to hear the chicks chirping from inside the eggs with this mic, but it may be something to listen for.

After hatching the chicks will need to be kept warm so Scout will brood the hatchlings. This may look similar to incubation but she will actually be sitting up higher and may hold her wings out from her body more than we see during incubation.

Finally, keep in mind this is Scout's first clutch so it is possible that some or all of the eggs may not even hatch. Of Victory's first clutch in 2005, only 2 of the 4 eggs hatched.

The weather forecast for the rest of the week is for lots of sun. Unfortunately, if hatching occurs midday, the shadow in the box will make it hard to see detail. Let's hope for the best and enjoy watching the eggs hatch on live streaming video!