The Chicks' Second Week
18 May - As a result of yesterday's efforts, continued this morning, the nest has now opened up to the glass somewhat. I have taken advantage of this to have a go at taking some photographs with the digital camera. Here is one of my first attempts. The dark shape above the female is the lens of the main CCD camera used for the webcam.
You can see the rows of developing feathers on the head of this chick as it is being fed. Also visible is the opening of its left nostril at the side of its developing beak.
This group picture gave me the first glimpse of an eye that is just open enough to catch a reflection of the light (top-left chick).
Below the eye you can see a circular area that marks the position of the chick's ear - there will be no external structure.
If you look at the middle-left chick you can just see the fuzzy down that each one has on the top of its head.
With feeding ended for the evening activity in the nest has continued as mum works furiously on the sides of the nest. This activity is still going on at 9.20pm.
This image, taken by the ccd camera in infra-red light only shows five of the chicks being virtually pinned to the sides of the nest cup as mum digs at the right side.
During the day chunks of the right hand side fell away as they were being undermined by her and I have had to re-adjust the cameras to cater for the gradual migration of the nest cup in that direction.
20 May - For much of the day today the nest cup looked a very untidy place. Mum continues to spent time carrying out alterations and there has been a problem with the right side of the cup being undermined and lumps of nest material coming adrift in the process. In this image (taken this afternoon) you can see a heap of material piled up behind her as dad pays a visit.
This back view shows clearly the contrast between the bands of developing feathers and the pink bare areas. You can see the downy crown that the chick has on the back of its head.
I hope to capture this in colour in the next day or so.
21 May - As the chicks reach into the morning sunshine for a feed we get a chance to see that the chicks are not all at exactly the same stage of growth.
You can see the difference in the size of the wing feathers in two chicks in this picture.
I saw a chick flapping its wings for the first time this morning. They are also starting to preen (or deal with an itch!).
This image of mum waiting to remove a faecal sac lets us see the extent of feather development at the rear end of the chick, including the tail feathers. You can see the thickness of the growth of white feathers on the chick's front and some feather growth on the upper legs.
Here a chick is preening its wing this evening. You may just make out the 'punk' effect of the growth of dark feathers down its back.
No doubt about this chick's eye being open, although some of the others are only just starting to open.
One last image for the day. Dad arriving with a mealworm to be greeted by seven hungry chicks. Just before this there had been a long pause in the feeding during which time the adults were not to be seen in the garden.
22 May - A short entry today with a couple of colour images I took earlier this evening. In this first one you can see the white feathers developing on the neck and breast of the chick on the right. The neck feathers on the left had chick are a bit more developed. Also noticable is the way their beaks are developing the characteristic pointed shape while maintaining the gape of the chick.
Watching the tv image as I write, their heads have an almost complete covering of feathers now. Lines of feathers are appearing around the eyes.
This image is of mum waiting for a faecal sac to be produced. The chick's undignified pose has provided the best chance yet to record this stage in its development.
Click on the image to see a larger version.
23 May - A day when I have had little chance to follow events in the box. This first image of the eight chicks illustrates the rate at which they are growing.
One observation I have failed to record is that by the weekend the parents were giving up on eating the faecal sacs and had started taking them out of the box. When they do this the sac is carried away from the box and much of it seems to end up below the strings that are set up either end of the mealworm feeder!
The nest cup is now big enough to accomodate the chicks comfortably and this image shows the eight arranged around the side, all facing outwards. Last year the chicks found themselves arranged similarly, but not until after the end of the second week. When they are huddled like this they look as though they are covered with feathers, but as the next image shows this is deceptive.
When there has been a delay in the bringing of food one or two of the chicks are almost climbing out of the nest cup. This chick was ready to greet dad who had come in without food on this occasion.
May 24 - The rate at which the chicks are growing their feather coats is amazing. In this image mum has just fed the chick on the left and is waiting to collect the faecal sac. The chick has the appearance of being completely covered. Compared with the image above its wing feathers are well developed.
There is a great deal of noise from the chicks whenever a parent arrives as they beg for food.
When the chicks have been on their own there have been numerous expeditions out of the nest cup, although these do not last long and the wanderer soon rejoins the rest in the nest cup.
I have just captured this image of mum settled in the nest surrounded by her offspring. The chick on the right is sitting on top of her! What a difference a week makes.
Mum continues with her 'housekeeping' but it increasingly difficult to do with the chicks the size they now are. They are ready to climb out of the way when she starts her activities rather than put up with being squashed.
25 May - Just a couple of group images for today. The fist showing all eight chicks in a circle, the one at the bottom of the picture having just been fed.
It is a different scene this evening when the chicks are hungry (again).
I have turned the volume down on the baby monitor now as the chicks get very noisy wheever a parent arrives.
When it comes to sleeping it becomes difficult for the mum with eight often restless chicks.
She tries to settle in the nest cup but often ends up standing in a corner head down.