In the blog of April 1st celebrating the laying of our second egg we posed the question: how long until the third egg? Well we have the answer now I guess. Never!
It’s a first of sorts – Sheffield Peregrines have usually laid a clutch of 4 eggs and most monitored urban sites lay 3 – 4 eggs typically – but 2 is all we are getting. However, there’s no need to feel short-changed. If the two eggs successfully hatch then it will be easier for the parents to provision 2 chicks with sufficient food than it would be to provide for 4 chicks. Given that this is a new pairing and given that many of us are convinced that this is the Falcon’s first serious breeding attempt that may not be such a bad thing, although we know that the current male is well capable of bringing in food for 4 chicks as he has done it in the past with his previous partner.
What is the science behind only laying two eggs? Well Britain may be a nation of avid birdwatchers, conservationists and animal scientists, and we may well have many monitored Peregrine nests but as have oft been stated before on this blog there is still so much we simply do not know about these birds. Personally I was tempted to think that laying 2 eggs was a consequence of inexperience in the Falcon (female) but this is, of course, wild speculation with little scientific foundation. A neat little story. Could it be the result of some sort of stress on the bird – was there a third Peregrine hanging around causing her an avian equivalent of anxiety? Are both birds completely healthy? Did the Tiercel provide enough food for both birds to be in top breeding condition? Did irregular food supply cause a stress. It’s all speculation. For the birds as the saying goes…
Let’s hope all goes well. As a new pairing, having 2 hungry little mouths to feed and care for might be a nice, slightly gentler start to life together and what we hope will be a long term partnership that lasts for years ahead. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves but if 2020 sees two chicks fledge, it will be a great year.
We may have been expecting a third and fourth egg but looking back it was clear that the female didn’t. We can see she got down to serious full time incubation within hours of the second egg being laid. How it works we don’t know but the instinct to incubate kicked straight in to her and the male followed suit. She obviously understood the signs. Since that point it’s been a waiting game. The weather has been kind this year so far touch wood. Just look back here to the blog of 7th April 2018 to see how variable the Sheffield spring can be! However, despite the sunshine, when I check in on the webcam late at night I still think the birds look rather forlorn, hunkered down protecting the eggs, the wind ruffling their feathers. It’s a long vigil!
Just how long will that vigil be? Well by the book the incubation period should be 31 or 32 days, which puts us on Friday the 1st or Saturday the 2nd of May. My money’s on the 2nd for the first egg to hatch. But then again I wouldn’t be surprised if something unusual or unpredictable happens. Would you?
Peregrine does Snowy Owl impression April 2018