Thursday, May 08, 2008

Nearing the home stretch!

I'm sure everyone knows by now that the ledgecam has been down this week. We are very optimistic that it will be restored tomorrow (Friday). Meanwhile, we continue to work with the outside partner assisting with the streaming video to help get that service to be more reliable-especially in that we anticipate hatch very soon. Know that folks within the Division of Wildlife are watching as closely as all of you are and in the event of a problem we will work to restore the site just as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that even if the streaming video is not working that the refreshed still images should still be available to follow the action.

Now that we are nearing the home stretch of incubation, many are very anxious to see if Columbus will have a successful hatch this year. Incubation takes around 33 days, however it is difficult to predict when the birds actually begin setting full time, especially this year with the delay between the first egg and the rest of the clutch. Counting from the date of the 4th egg (April 11), 33 days is Wednesday, May 14th, 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 usually 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 the incubating adult will become very restless. It 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 Scout's first clutch last year in 2007 was infertile. It is possible that some or all of the eggs may not hatch again this year. The fate of the first egg that was laid 8 days ahead of the second egg is especially questionable.

Let's hope for the best and enjoy watching the eggs hatch on live streaming video!