Friday, June 6, 2008

Icon's First Nest of 2008

Originally posted on April 29, 2008

These are Icon's chicks at less than 2 1/2 days old.

Last year, I took 12 chicks from the parents of which 6 were male. The males included Longbow, Fireworks and Max. The tail lengths of 3 of the males after the first molt from juvenile were 10 1/4", 11", 11 1/4" with the remaining 3 chicks having tails exceeding 13". All the chicks are worth having but Longbow, with 11 1/4" tails, arguably can compete with Pretty Boy as the bset male I have ever bred.

I repeated the mating this year. The parents are feeding the chicks. As all the 5 chicks are about the same size and look happy and well fed, it can be seen that the parents are doing a wonderful job.

The mother laid 6 eggs of which 5 hatched. The female will usually lay 3 to 4 eggs and commence to brood when the penultimate egg is laid. When this happens, the last egg will hatch a day later and the chick will have less chance of surviving.

After the 3rd egg the mother did not sit and I was already happy. I expected her to sit upon laying the 4th egg but she did not so I knew there would be a 5th egg. She entered the box on the 5th morning and I was sure there was another egg but again she did not sit. She only commenced to brood after laying the 6th egg. The result is that all the 5 eggs hatched within the same day.

The 11th day after the mother commenced brooding was last Sunday. I was home for most of the day. I counted 2 half eggshells in the morning and another 1/2 eggshell in the afternoon. These eggshells were from the broader part of the egg and tell that at least 3 chicks had hatched. There could be more as the parents may have eaten the eggshells of the other eggs so that no eggshell can be seen.

The parents were attentively going up to the box with food in their beaks so many times that I felt sure there were 4 or more chicks.

I was anxious to know if the chicks were OK so I checked this evening and found 5 chicks. I have successfully had 5 chicks from a nest before. One of these days perhaps I will get 6 chicks from 6 eggs.

I should note that I usually do not check the nest as to do so may upset the parents and result in them abandoning the chicks. However, this pair is used to me and they did not mind me quickly checking and returning the box after photographing the chicks.

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