Wednesday, April 29, 2009

All eggs have hatched

It's been a very busy day for hatching in the Columbus falcon nest. By 6 p.m. or so, the 4th egg had hatched so the clutch is complete. Many will be put at ease to know there was a successful feeding:This has been a busy day for me, too - a lot of time out of the office on other projects. If you didn't know before how dedicated I am to the peregrine project and all the fans out there, take a look at the time stamp on this post. It is correct! I am REALLY posting this at 10:30 PM from my office having just gotten back in from the field! I think I will call it a day and head home!

The count is up to THREE

A 3rd chick was confirmed today, April 29 at 11:40 a.m.:
Thanks to one of my best "watchers" Margaret for capturing this image!

2nd chick!

Another egg was reportedly showing a pip around 7 p.m. last evening. First light this morning revealed a second chick! So, all is going well. This photo was captured by Terry about 8 a.m. this morning, 4/29/09.

Normal activity is for Scout to brood the young to help keep them warm. After extreme hot temperatures over the weekend (85+) we now are in the 50-60 degree range in Columbus. Combined with clouds and rain Scout will definitely be sitting tight on the remaining eggs and newly hatched young to keep them from being chilled. But no complaints! The cloud cover is welcomed during hatching to help us see what's going on. Were it sunny we'd be trying to see what's happening though harsh sun and dark shadow!

Initial attempts at feeding have not been successful. Scout has presented food, but not nearly close enough to the chicks for them to take it. This behavior was observed last year right after hatch also. There is no cause for alarm though, as the chicks are still getting nourishment from the remains of the yolk sac. I'm sure Scout will figure things out as we get another couple of days into this next phase.

Unfortunately, I will be in the field most of today and tomorrow and away from my computer. So the next blog update likely won't be until Friday. Hopefully, by then I'll be able to report 4 chicks!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

1st egg hatches!!!

The first chick of 2009 made it's appearance today, April 28, 2009. I saw the first glance at 3:36 p.m. From a little before 3 p.m. I noticed Scout was quite restless, turning often and looking at the eggs for about 45 minutes prior to me actually seeing the chick. I figured something was up and kept a close watch ready to record. I finally got a glimpse just after 3:30:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hatch expected this week

Many, many eyes are on the Columbus falcons anxiously awaiting hatch. Incubation takes around 33 days, however it is difficult to predict when the birds actually begin setting full time. Counting from the date of the 4th egg (March 27), 33 days is Wednesday, April 29th, 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 (except for during the extreme warm temperatures over the weekend when the adults were moving the eggs and shading them to help keep them from overheating) 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. Unfortunately, at this time there is no sound with the nestbox video.

Eggs can hatch at any time of the day or night but we usually see the most hatching during daylight hours. The process will start with a pip--a small hole pecked through the shell from the inside by the chick using it's "egg tooth." It will take some time from pipping for the chick to actually come completely out of the shell. Don't be surprised if you see Scout eating the egg shells. This is one way for her to replenish calcium in her body that was lost from her system when she produced the eggs initially.

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.

I'll be in the field a considerable amount of time this week and so may not be able to post updates as soon as they happen. However, I will update the blog as soon as I am able with photo highlights when possible.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nearing the home stretch

Incubation has gone very smoothly this nesting season. Hopefully by this time next week we'll be in to hatching. Early next week I'll post some details on what to expect.

In the meantime, here's another video clip I saved last week. Here, Scout is picking up and dropping stones while she sets on the eggs. This is an interesting behavior we've noticed over the years that the birds do at various times throughout the year. I'm not sure why they would go to the trouble to pick up a rock just to drop it and repeat the action again and again. One can only assume it is some type of behavior with no other purpose then to pass time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Video clip of Orville

Got a chance to catch this video of Orville taking over incubation duty yesterday (4/14/09). As you watch it you will see him doing a lot of wiggling as he settles down onto the eggs. Notice, too, how the upper part of his body bobs up quickly and repeatedly. These actions are more than just him getting comfortable and situating himself on the eggs--these movements are counter actions as his muscles work to separate his breast feathers so that there is direct skin-to-egg contact. This direct contact helps to keep the eggs at the proper temperature during incubation.

Seems like we've had a stretch of cool, wet weather in Columbus. As long as the birds are tight on the eggs, they will be kept at the proper temperature for development regardless of the air temperature. If you recall, last spring we had some unusually warm and sunny weather in which Scout didn't need to be on the eggs so tight - in fact, she stood over them to shade them at times. Check back through the blog updates from April, 2008, to compare. The forecast is calling for much warmer and sunny weather this weekend.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Weekly (sort of) update

During this slow time of incubation there is usually not too much to report on, therefore my intentions are to update the blog about once a week. However, last week I delayed my update because I was waiting/hoping to hear good news on the status of the nestbox still images. I was also trying (unsuccessfully) to get into a program that analyzes the traffic to the blog to report some interesting stats. Well, the week wore on and before I knew it, I was out of time for the weekly update. So, here it is late:

Incubation is progressing normally and everything looks fine. In past years it seemed that Orville did a lot more of the incubation duty than was expected - this year it seems Scout is on the eggs the majority of the time. Regardless, the eggs are being kept warm and there is nothing unusual or notable to report.

Status of the nestbox still images: unfortunately, nothing new to report. They are still down into the foreseeable future.

Interesting blog stats to ponder: From the period March 20-April 12, 2009, there were 23,540 visits to the blog from 29 countries around the world and all 50 states in the U.S.A.! So, while YOU are watching the eggs being incubated, know too, that others are also watching from far-off places including: Australia, Malaysia, Italy, Romania, Norway, France, Spain, India, China, Poland and Kazakhstan! A LOT of people are interested in the Columbus, Ohio peregrine falcon nest! Thank you for your support!