And then there were two

It’s taken a little longer than anticipated, but the second egg was laid this afternoon at around 16:45, so around 58 hours after the first.

March 21 2016

Prior to that, both adults took turns to brood the single egg.  There was a lot of interaction during the day, with some courtship bowing on the nest.

March 21 bowing

Shortly after that, the male returned to the ledge with a prey item, which attracted the female’s attention.  She flew round and did the classic snatch from the male, showing the clear benefit of the difference in size.  The male seemed a little spooked and flew off, circling in the background, just visible in the screengrab below.

March 21 takeover

Another screengrab captured one about to land on the perch.  Must get down some time to try and get some pics from below.

March 21 landing

One of the things that’s puzzled me is how or why – as in the picture below – the eggs look entirely pale at night.  Nothing else in the box undergoes this transformation: dark pebbles continue to look dark, so why do the eggs change colour?  Is it the lighting or something in the surface of the shell that reflects the light in a certain way?  Perhaps I’ll ask Professor Tim Birkhead, whose new book on eggs is about to come out.

March 20 night egg

And the other puzzle: is this the same female as in the last few years?  They’re certainly similar, but I reckon that there are differences in the length of the hook on the upper mandible, in the shade and extent of the yellow at the base of the bill (and around the eye), and in the degree to which the white patch on the ‘cheek’ extends up behind the moustachial stripe.  I’ve put together a side-by-side comparison from January 2015 and today so you can see what I mean.


You can come to your own conclusions while I keep looking into it!

One comment

  1. Female looks different to me. The most striking difference being the yellow area around the front of the eye. Is there a definitive way of checking? Maybe DNA samples if the eggshells from last year and this. Whatever, it’s still fascinating, and something my family and I look forward to each spring. Thanks for keeping us informed, David.

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