As the time of the predicted hatching is swiftly approaching, following our previous blog about incubation, we decided to shed some light on the laborious process of hatching our chicks will have to soon undergo.
Many of you might have noticed the recent subtle changes in the behaviour of our ospreys. They appear restless when incubating, turning the eggs more frequently and carefully. You also might have noticed that they seemingly pause for a minute after the eggs are turned and often tilt their heads to the side, listening. These behavioural clues suggest that the incubation is nearing its end and hatching is imminent.
LF15 carefully tending to the eggs.
At this stage the chicks are pretty much fully developed and the parents are able to hear them moving round and even calling from inside the shells. As the incubation progresses the egg shells get weaker. The hatching itself can take anything between one and two days from the initial crack in the shell (Poole 1989). This is done by a handy little tool at the tip of chick’s beak called the “egg tooth” – a small, sharp, white temporary protuberance formed at the top of the beak which is subsequently lost a few days after hatching (Dennis 2008). After the shell is pierced, usually at the egg’s blunt end, the young chick uses all its strength to push its way out, pressing on the fragile shell with its head, legs and wings until the obstacle gives way and falls off bit by bit (Hanzak 1971).
The eggs usually hatch out a day or two apart in a simmilar intervals as they were laid.
The osprey chicks emerge from their shells wet, weak and relatively helpless (Poole 1989). They are covered with pale brown and buff down which partially protects them from cold, however they still rely on their parents’ bodies for shelter, warmth and protection. Their eyes open within a few hours after they hatch and they are perfectly able to actively take food from their parent’s beak (Poole 1989).
As you can see our chicks still have the hardest part ahead of them and us here at Loch of the Lowes are counting not days but hours and struggling to talk about anything else. Our round-the-clock watch is keeping a close eye on the nest ready to report any development.
Keep up with our blog and social media to stay up to speed with our ospreys.
Species Protection Officer
Hanzak, J. (1971). Bird’s Eggs and Nests (p. 231). London: The Hamilton Publishing
Poole, A. F. (1989). Ospreys (p. 103). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Dennis, R. (2008). A Life of Osprey (p. 75). Glasgow: Whittles Publishing