Friday, April 27, 2012

Tick-tock, Tick-tock...

We're approaching the final leg of incubation, with a little over a week to go.  This is the period of time when it is difficult to provide updates because there simply isn't a lot to report on.  After all, not much to be said about a peregrine sleeping/sitting in a tray of rocks, day after day after day!  But not having much to say right now I suppose can be a good thing.  Drama isn't really desired when the birds' jobs are to keep the eggs at the proper temperature.  Which, by the way, for the most part means they are setting on them but on warm, sunny days you can also see them shading the eggs to keep them from getting too warm.

One thing some are wondering is if we are going to name the male.  There are no plans to do so at this time.  When a falcon does not have leg bands it makes it very difficult to definitively identify an individual unless there is some distinctive variation in plumage or behavior.  This male does not have leg bands and there really isn't anything about him that stands out that would be a telltale identifier if another male took his place tomorrow.  Therefore, for now he will remain "the male."  Provided the eggs hatch, a local school will be holding a contest and the students will submit their choice of names.  As we've done in the past, the public will decide the winning names via a webpoll.  While we won't count our falcons before they're hatched, we will continue to remain hopeful. 

Next week I will post what to watch for that will indicate hatching is imminent.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Which Adult is Incubating?

With our nesting pair in Columbus this year, Durand (the female) has leg bands but the male does not. That makes it easy to tell one from another--just look for the bands or lack thereof.

But if you tune in when a peregrine is in full incubation mode you won't be able to see the legs to tell for sure whether it is the male or the female keeping the eggs warm. So how can viewers tell which adult is incubating?

With this pair, the plumage of the male and female is very similar--there isn't much to set them apart. Therefore, viewers will have to rely on a basic size comparison to tell Durand from her mate. As with most birds of prey, the female is larger. Here are similar poses for comparison of the 2 adults. Look for a bulky body that takes up a substantial amount of space inside the nestbox. The difference can seem subtle at first but if you train your eye soon you will be able to tell Durand from the male easily.

Tune in often to see if you can tell which is which. (If you click on the photo it will open larger for easier viewing and/or printing.)

Speaking of incubation, all is going well. Hatch is predicted on or about May 6. However, it can be very difficult to determine when true incubation begins so that date is just an estimate!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Maybe 3 Eggs Will Be It

Well, it is looking more and more like Durand's 2012 clutch will be 3 eggs. Of course, it is still possible for her to lay a 4th egg so nothing is for certain until more time passes. In the meantime, true incubation is believed to have started on April 3rd. Eggs hatch in about 33 days so that would put hatch around May 6.

So what's next? Basically, watching both Durand and the male take turns incubating the eggs for the next 4+ weeks. And, when we have a very warm, sunny day, watching them shade the eggs! In the near future I hope to post pictures of each of them incubating to help viewers be able to tell which is which. Durand will handle the incubation duty the majority of the time while the male will bring her food and set on the eggs while she leaves to feed and otherwise take a break.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Egg #3

Many anxious fans out there will be glad to know that egg #3 was confirmed this morning, 4/3/12, a little after 7 a.m.!

One question I have been getting frequently concerns Durand panting in the nestbox and water intake (or lack thereof). Firstly, most birds of prey rarely actually drink water, rather they get the water they need from the flesh of the prey they eat. Her panting is a way for her to keep cool (birds don't sweat) and does not have to do with her being stressed. It is usually much warmer on the nest ledge because the box faces south. Especially with these bright sunny days we've been having, temps on the ledge/in the box can climb quite a bit higher than the ambient temperature. Panting is how Durand keeps cool and shading the eggs helps to keep the eggs from becoming too warm.

Monday, April 02, 2012

3rd Egg-NOT on Schedule

As of this morning there are still only 2 eggs in the nest. The normal clutch is 3-4. Last year, Durand laid 5 eggs but none were fertile.

We would have expected a 3rd egg either last Friday or Saturday but so far Durand has not produced. While on average eggs are laid every 2-3 days it does happen sometimes that there is a longer period of time in between eggs. She will likely lay at least one more egg, however, when that happens is anyone's guess. A few years ago up to a week went by between eggs being laid and all still hatched successfully. It is also possible that two will be her clutch this year. We'll all just have to wait and see.