I think our chicks may have wondered why they bothered to chip their way out of the shelter of the egg, into the cold of the north easterly wind on Sunday. Hopefully the found warm spring weather that welcomed them this morning much more pleasant!
I still have no news to give you about the third egg, it has currently disappeared out of view. There are 2 possibilities here, the first is that with all the commotion on the ledge is has rolled down in the nest hollow and would be impossible to view, being behind the rock. The second and possibly slightly less appealing view is that it has hatched, but possibly died. The chick in the third egg may have been weak. As on older bird who has already raised many chicks, the falcon may not have been in a good enough condition to lay 3 healthy eggs. The hatching process is exhausting for a young chick, if it is weak and the yolk not nutritious enough, it may prove too much for it.
Peregrines are very resourceful and do not waste a thing. For example the female will often eat the egg shells after a chick has hatched out. This means she can re-ingest the calcium she used to form the shell. If a chick dies, she will often feed it to the surviving young and herself. This may sound gruesome and insensitive to us, but if your living on the edge it is important to use everything possible to make sure the young that are alive survive. A live chick would not be fed on by the other young or adults, unlike owls and some other birds of prey.
The largest gap between the first and last chicks hatching for this pair over the years has been 5 days. This means if we do not have a third chick by tomorrow it is looking unlikely. It may seem disappointing, but 2 chicks is a good number when you consider the amount already fledged by this pair (32 by the male, 21 by the female). Two more healthy, well fed chicks fledging into the world will be great. It would also mean it won’t take too much out of our adults and help them survive another year!
The male used the good weather to his advantage today, managing to bring in a number of prey items. Those that were identified were all starlings. This was enough prey to feed the chicks and the adults. All is looking good for them at the moment
Tom Wells – Peregrine Protection Officer