Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nearing the Home Stretch

Incubation in total takes around 33 days. We are in the final days before hatch, however, it was difficult to predict when the birds actually began setting full time so I don't have an exact date to expect hatch. My best estimate is that hatch will occur between May 16-19th. Keep in mind this is only a prediction and so could be off. Don't be surprised if hatch begins earlier and don't panic if hatch is late!

The eggs usually hatch over a couple of days time. Here is what to watch for 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 we can expect the incubating adult to 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.

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.

There is still some troubleshooting to be done (from inside the building) to get the nestbox mic back to 100%. We hope that work will be completed this week and it restores the audio to what it should be.

As for whether the "odd egg" will hatch or not...we'll all be watching to find out the answer to that question together! Here's a picture of one day when it appeared as though Scout was using the egg as a pillow!