Operation Chough Nest Cameras 2017
July 2017 Update
The breeding season is almost over with just two of the youngsters still sharing an aviary with their parents.
The total number of chicks is seven, four of them are male which is important as in previous years there have been many more females than males. This year has helped even up the sexes in our captive group and for release.
We found that two pairs had laid infertile eggs this year, so were able to swap between the nests so that each pair hatched two chicks – their own or fostered.
This made our care of the chicks a little easier this year as the parenting was spread equally between the nests. Sadly one chick didn’t seem to separate properly from its shell and died almost immediately after emerging from the egg. Two other chicks died later but we are happy to have have seven very healthy young birds.
The ‘Aviary 4’ family are still occasionally visiting their nest but they will soon move to the flocking aviary for more space and to interact with other choughs. The webcam has done its job of allowing us to closely monitor the nests. We hope to have it up and running again in March 2018 for a new chough breeding season.
This year we have updated the cameras to High Definition, and the picture quality is quite remarkable – try it on full screen, and it is almost life-size.
The images come from our seclusion aviaries, where we are continuing to breed our choughs as part of our long-term project to conserve and expand the distribution of the species. We have five pairs of nesting choughs, they went from their winter flocking aviary into their individual breeding aviaries in March.
The cameras have a small set of lights inside the nestbox to illuminate activity during the day. At night, they switch to infra-red, and the birds can often be seen roosting, incubating eggs or brooding chicks.
As well as images, there is also sound from the nests. We find this helpful to understand if the adults are doing their ‘feeding call’. This call is needed early on as the chick don’t open their eyes for a few days, they need an audible signal to know that it is the right time to open their mouths for food.