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Week 9 - 28th May 2006

What a din! We can now hear the little sweethearts begging for food from just outside our house, at least 20 metres away from the nest box.

Both parents are extremely busy, flying frantically back and forth with food and faecal sacs, with as many as 85 feeds per hour. They are varying their diet more now; for example, caterpillars, grubs, spiders, aphids, suet and sunflower hearts.

The chicks are increasingly restless, fidgeting about the nest, clambering over the top of one another, head scratching, preening, stretching their wings and even occasionally have a vigorous flap. Some of the wing feathers are now erupting from their sheaths, so the feathers look a little like spoons - the shaft protrudes from the wing like a match stick and the feather vane is starting to emerge at the tip as the sheath splits. Their tail feathers are also growing quite quickly. The body contour feathers are almost complete, just narrow patches of bare flesh show on either side of the spine when they open their wings.

The "runt", who I think shall be called Frodo, was the last hatched chick and is still quite a bit smaller than the other chicks, but its parents ensure it gets food even if its begging is overwhelmed by its siblings'.

At night time, Fidge spends quite a while cleaning the nest, which she also does numerous times throughout the day, before putting her head under her shoulder feathers for a snooze. During these nightly sessions, if she finds any faecal sacs in the nest, she places them on the side and then disposes of them in the morning. On 29th May, it was quite cold outside and Fidge slept atop the chicks, but this was to be the last night that they could cuddle up to their mum, because they've been left alone every night since.

On the 1st June the chicks were very restless, moving about the interior of the box, flapping their wings, etc. Also, the parents seemed to feeding them much less, certainly by late afternoon and the evening, and the chicks just sat there, patiently waiting for food, uttering the old plaintive call.

The following day and the parents can barely find room to enter the box to feed the chicks, which have spread themselves out. A couple of them keep flapping up to the hole for a look at the outside world.

On Saturday 3rd June we were surprised and saddened by what we saw. First, the chicks had not flown, but sadly one of the chicks was dead. During the day, various chicks repeatedly popped there heads out of the nest hole to look at what awaited them, but none seemed willing to leave the comfort of their full board lodgings.

28th May - One of up to 85 feeds per hour
28th May - One of up to 85 feeds per hour
28th May - Wing stretching
28th May - Wing stretching
29th May - Waiting quietly for the next feed
29th May - Waiting quietly for the next feed
29th May - Tail feathers growing (Frodo at 5-o'clock)
29th May - Tail feathers growing (Frodo at 5-o'clock)
29th May - Night time (Faecal sacs on side)
29th May - Night time (Faecal sacs on side)
30th May - How they've grown!
30th May - How they've grown!
31st May - Night time without mum
31st May - Night time without mum
1st June - Innocent? Well behaved?
1st June - Innocent? Well behaved?
1st June - Hungry chicks
1st June - Hungry chicks
2nd June - Lots of wing flapping
2nd June - Lots of wing flapping
2nd June - Another night alone
2nd June - Another night alone
3rd June - All still here, but one dead (top right)
3rd June - All still here, but one dead (top right)
3rd June - Would you look at this!
3rd June - Would you look at this!
 
 

 


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