And then there were three

Following the emergence of the first chick on Monday evening, the last two days have indeed seen further eggs hatch, as anticipated.  Having gone to bed on Monday with a ‘pipped’ egg alongside the chick, I expected a second chick to be present on Tuesday morning, but by lunchtime, little had changed as below.

May 1 chick and 3 eggs

The afternoon did see the expected second chick hatch, coinciding with the male bringing in some prey to feed the first chick.  The female’s reluctance to move aside over several minutes as he stood by with food in beak was puzzling, until a freshly pink chick became visible underneath the female’s wing; pink because the down was wet from inside the shell, although it wouldn’t take to long to dry and turn white.

May 1 second chick

It wasn’t long before the male returned with some food, which the female seemed reluctant for him to feed to the chicks.  Instead, she took tiny morsels from him and fed them to the older chick, the younger one not yet ready for a feed.

By midday on Wednesday a third egg had hatched, all within a 48-hour window.

May 2 three chicks

Noticeable in the front of the box for most of the day (and in the pictures above and below) was a patch of heavy black plastic that had somehow blown up the tower and come to land in the nest.  It’s a highly topical subject and a timely indication of how prevalent plastic is in our environment: Sir David Attenborough would not be amused!

May 2 plastic

Once the male had settled back down to brood the plastic blew up and landed on his rump and wingtips.  He seemed unsettled and startled but he did not leave his brooding duties and a short while later it blew off again and appears to have left the nest.

May 2 plastic male

Later in the afternoon, both parents brought food in for the chicks, at one point both at the same time!  It looks as if they won’t go hungry, with Feral Pigeon already featuring.

May 2 male feeding 3 chicks

By the end of the day, there was still one egg among the three chicks, which are all looking healthy and feeding well.  There’s no sign of any ‘pipping’ on that fourth egg, so it may be that it won’t hatch.  Tomorrow may be the last realistic chance for it to do so.  This is when the Peregrine’s synchronous hatching strategy becomes most apparent: having laid the four eggs over the space of a week and only starting to incubate once the clutch was (almost) complete, the eggs hatch over a much shorter period, resulting in chicks of similar size and with similar chances of surviving.  Fingers crossed for that fourth egg hatching tomorrow…

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