Richmond Falcon Cam
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Thursday, June 13, 2013
This morning just before 7 am, another of the eggs has hatched.
The normal progression of a hatch can be seen in the series of images below
1.) A pip or initial hole can clearly be seen in this photo. This is the chick’s first effort to break through the shell using its egg tooth (a small knob on the end of their bill that will fall off shortly after hatching). The chick has broken through the air space at the end of the egg and in now breathing outside air. From here the hard work really starts. This is a long and demanding process for the tiny chick and may take up to 72 hours to complete.
2.) The chick will now rotate inside the egg scratching and scoring the inside of the shell as it goes. A muscle in the chick’s neck (the complexus muscle - also known as the hatching muscle) becomes enlarged just prior to hatching. Using this muscle the chick will push against the shell to try to break the two halves of the eggshell apart. Here you can clearly see the line the chick has made around the circumference of the egg.
3.) Once the eggshell has been weakened enough the chick breaks free! Initially they are still very wet and exhausted from this very demanding ordeal. Prior to hatching the chick will have absorbed any remaining yolk in the egg for energy. Soon the chick will dry out and we’ll see the fluffy white down that covers it.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
The chick has dried out and has had a good feeding this evening.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
The second egg hatched today (6/11/13)at about 1:41 pm. The photo below captured the young chick just as it tumbled from the egg.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
We have been anticipating the hatch of the second clutch and noted a pip (first hole) in the light colored egg yesterday. It quickly became apparent however that the hatch of this egg was not proceeding normally. Peregrine falcon chicks hatch without any assistance from their parents, using a specialized egg tooth to score the inside of the shell and break free. In this case however, both the adult female and male used their bills to chip away at the opening. Both also seemed to picking at the contents of the egg. We were able to see movement from the chick inside the egg and the adults continued to incubate all four eggs. We also noted a pip in one of the other eggs. This morning revealed that the adults had removed the lighter colored egg from the nest box. We will continue to monitor the hatching progress of the remaining eggs. Eggs can fail for any number of reasons and the hatching process is grueling for the chicks. We do know that development of the embryo was relatively advanced as we could see chick’s bill (with the egg tooth).
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Falcon cam viewers may have noticed that one of the four eggs is much lighter in color than the other three. This isn’t all that unusual as peregrine falcon eggs may be a wide variety of colors from pale creamy to darker reddish brown. The eggs are also typically patterned with darker splotches and spots. All eggs begin with white shells in the female’s reproductive tract. Once the eggs pass into the uterus region they receive their pigmentation, including any patterns
Monday, May 13, 2013
Today we were able to see a fourth egg in the Richmond nest. Given how well the eggs are hidden in the nest box we can’t be sure when it was laid. Based on our estimates of when the previous eggs were laid, we believe that this egg was produced sometime between Saturday and afternoon. This egg will likely fill out the clutch although as this female showed us earlier this season - peregrine falcons are capable of laying five eggs.
Friday, May 10, 2013
The position of the scrape in the nest box makes it very hard to see the eggs. We have been watching closely for any sign of additional eggs and finally caught a glimpse of a third egg just before noon today. We aren’t sure when this may have been laid - likely sometime yesterday or earlier today. We’ll continue to watch and see if a fourth egg is laid over the weekend.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
We have confirmed a second clutch of eggs for the Richmond peregrine falcons. The first egg was likely laid sometime on Saturday May 4th. A second was clearly seen on May 7th. Peregrine falcons typically lay eggs two days apart. The nest scrape (depression in the gravel where the eggs are laid) is very close to the front edge of the nest box , making it difficult to see how many eggs the pair have. The birds have been incubating regularly and incubation generally starts with the penultimate (second to last) egg, although cool temeratures can cause incubation to start earlier in the process. A four egg clutch is the norm for peregrine falcons but we’ll have to wait until we get a better look to know for sure how many eggs we have.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Since the loss of the eggs at the Dominion Building we have been watching the cameras there as well as at Riverfront Plaza for falcon activity. We were pleased to see the birds on the Riverfront Plaza camera on April 23rd. Since that time both the male and female have spent considerable time at the nest box and have frequently engaged in courtship behavior like the “head-low” display seen below.
All of this makes us cautiously optimistic as we wait to see if the Richmond peregrines will attempt a second clutch.
Friday, April 19, 2013
DGIF biologists have been closely monitoring the nest and this morning noted that only a single egg remained. Biologists accessed the nest box and examined the remaining egg.
The egg was clearly cracked and leaking yolk. The cracks were not consistent with a normal hatching and at this late stage the yolk should have been absorbed by the embryo. All of this indicated that the egg was not viable. The egg was collected and DGIF is looking into having it evaluated for a variety of factors that might have led to this outcome.
Although it is late in the breeding season, the potential for re-nesting exists and we will continue to monitor this nest site for falcon activity.