Monday, April 14, 2008

What to expect during incubation

Everything continues to appear "normal" and incubation is in full swing. So what can we expect to see over the next several weeks? Mostly a "peregrine sitting in a tray of rocks" but it is still interesting to many of us! Scout will do most of the incubation while Orville's primary job is to hunt and bring her food. After he delivers a prey item and she leaves to go feed, he will take his turn keeping the eggs warm. When they switch places it is called a "mate change." It is during these "mate changes" that we get a glimpse at the clutch of eggs. Sometimes they may leave the eggs exposed for several minutes. This is normal and is to be expected. It causes no harm to the eggs, especially on warm, sunny days when the temperature inside the nest box is much hotter than the outside air due to the southern exposure of the nest. Watch for the incubating bird to sleep or pass the time by picking up rocks with its beak. Eggs should hatch after about 33 days of incubation time.

Now that the falcons are sitting in one place for extended periods of time during incubation duty, it is a good time to practice your skills of telling Orville from Scout. The birds look very similar to each other. Once you get used to looking closely, probably the easiest way to tell them apart is to look at overall size. Scout, like most female birds of prey, is larger than Orville, the male. Refer back to my blog post from April 18, 2007 for more tips and similar photos of each in the nest box for comparison.