We had our first hatch at Great Spirit Bluff last night at 11:07 PM! Based on what we are seeing and hearing, we think we have at least one more egg to go. Congratulations to Nova and Newman on their first hatch!
May 8, 2020: 1st Feeding – https://youtu.be/mY_w64CcAtQ. Like peaglets, little falcons are always hungry! Hatchlings require small meals multiple times per day to support their growth rates. This little falcon will reach roughly adult size and weight just 21-22 days from today!
May 8, 2020: Newman 1st look at eyass – https://youtu.be/y7G5RwvQ6GM. It’s a shift change! Newman takes over from Nova as she leaves the nest box to stretch her wings. If you watch this video, you’ll see that she moves out very slowly and he moves in the same way, holding his feet loosely to prevent damage to eggs or hatchlings. This is a great example of two unconcerned peregrine parents handing off brooding duty – and a good example of instinct or a fixed-action pattern! Nova, a first time parent as far as we know, still moves slowly and carefully around her eggs and young.
May 8, 2020: First eyass of the season! https://youtu.be/gizvfzlkL0E. Our first brief glimpse of the first hatchling. I went back over our records and was fascinated to see that Michelle’s first hatches tended to happen during the day. We’ll see what time egg #2 hatches!
May 7, 2020: Newman incubating late at night: https://youtu.be/Bn4lWeYF9jc. ‘Egg talking’ starts at 1:42 in the video below, although you might need to turn up the volume to hear it. Ethologically, egg-talk could be described as a fixed action pattern: an instinctive behavioral sequence that is highly stereotyped and species-characteristic. Putting it in modern terms, wouldn’t you vibe back at a voice you vibed with?
As far as we know, this is Nova’s first brood. It’s been interesting to watch her behavior, since she started incubation a little later and spent more time off her eggs than female falcons usually do. Both falcons have also been coping with a Great Horned Owl on territory, which could explain her behavior – the female falcon at Great River Energy behaved similarly when coping with territorial owls several years ago.
Either way, this hatch is a good reminder that eggs and birds aren’t especially fragile when it comes to the conditions they’ve evolved to cope with. Eggs can’t survive freezing, but they can survive cold, especially early in incubation. Smaller male falcons can incubate multiple eggs (although first-time fathers tend to have a harder time with it). Falcon behavior is heavily mediated by instinct or fixed-pattern behaviors, but falcons learn from experience and can change their behavior in response to their external environment, especially when threats and stimuli are something they can recognize.
You can watch live here: https://www.raptorresource.org/birdcams/gsb-falcons/ (nest box cam is the second cam down on the page) or here: https://explore.org/livecams/raptor-resource-project/peregrine-falcon-cam