Following the hatching of the first egg on Thursday 27th April, the second and third hatched on 28th and 29th respectively. For anyone who’s not seen it, Wendy Bartter captured the appearance of the first newly hatched chick as a short video, viewable here
In the screenshot above, the female is eating the shell of the first egg to hatch, thereby replacing calcium levels depleted by laying the eggs. It’s behaviour that’s been noted every year that they’ve bred, but great to capture nonetheless: thanks to Stuart W. It was also noticeable that the female was reluctant to handover brooding duties to the male during the hatching period, though that has settled back into a more equitable division of labour over the last few days.
Fortunately the cold spell of the last couple of weeks turned just as the chicks began to hatch, and they look to have made a good start, being fed regularly and without any major scares in the shape of spills like the one noted last year. The indefatigable Wendy also captured a short video of a ‘spillage’ incident last spring at St George’s, after which the female picked up the chick and brought it back into the brood, viewable here
On the basis of the last few years in Sheffield, the fourth egg is unlikely to hatch now and three chicks is set to be our brood, despite what appear to be a couple of white ‘pips’ in the remaining egg that might suggest imminent hatching. In none of the four years in which we’ve had the webcam has there been a gap of more than two days between the first and last egg hatching, and with five days now passed since the first egg hatched that window seems to have closed. The parents will probably continue to incubate the egg as they brood the chicks, but it will gradually get pushed out as the chicks quickly grow over the next week, and eventually forgotten about. I would, however, be delighted to be proved wrong!