Chick Development

The Osprey Cam action has been slow lately, but that’s a very good thing. At this time of year, with the parents on eggs, you don’t want a lot of excitement or drama. The parents have been doing a great job staying on the eggs and providing the needed heat, so that the chicks can develop properly inside the eggs.

The incubating eggs must be kept at a temperature of around 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Each parent has a brood patch, which is a featherless spot on their underside, that they hold against the eggs to keep them warm. The osprey population always has a high egg/chick mortality rate when the spring weather is cold and wet, but so far our spring has been good for osprey incubation.

Our first egg is due to hatch around May 31. As that day nears, we’ll be watching the parent (probably the female) on the eggs to see if she seems restless. The parents will hear the chick chirping and might feel it moving inside the egg before hatching occurs. The hatching process is very hard on the chick, and the youngster must stop quite frequently to rest, so the hatching (from first pip to leaving the egg) can drag out over 24 hours.

Below is a video of a chick hatching at the Loch of the Lowes osprey nest in Scotland. The video shows the end of the hatching process, when the chick is finally able to push off the top of the egg and emerge.

Some cam watchers have asked in the past if the parents ever help the chick get out of the shell. Most biologists will say that the parents do not help, but I’ll admit that I’ve seen a couple videos over the years where it looked like the parent might be moving the shell aside. Whether that’s helping or not, I’m not really sure, but it does seem that most parents leave the hatching to the chick.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Categories: eggs, incubation | Leave a comment

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