Here is the first picture of the first nest of this year’s chough chicks. (Nest three).
Three chough chicks just over 24 hours old
We have designed the nest boxes in the breeding aviaries with a small inspection hatch at the back. This allows us to monitor weights, give supplementary feeds, and occasionally medication.
While the birds are distracted by someone, usually Ali, going into the front of the aviary with food, I can use the opportunity to open the hatch to carry out my secret duties. The adult birds tend to hide in a small space on top of the nest box while this is going on.
We get the birds used to these intrusions before any eggs are hatched, by using positive reinforcement. The adult birds associate a person coming into the aviary as a good thing. Person equals food. This makes our disturbances much less stressful for all concerned, except for Ray and Ali.
The total egg count for our breeding choughs is now up to seventeen.
A rare view of seventeen chough eggs
To mark Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday, our oldest female chough, aged 18, laid our most recent egg. She is a remarkable bird and amazingly spiritedly for such an age. (The chough, not the Queen).
Nest number four continues to “faff”…
According to our calculations, the first eggs in nest three will be hatching in the next two or three days. We will then switch the webcam view to show the new arrivals.
You can see the webcam here.
The breeding choughs at Paradise Park have now increased their total egg count to eleven.
Seclusion aviary nests showing eleven eggs
Three of the nests are progressing well, with counts of four, three, and four eggs respectively. The female in nest two laid the third egg this morning, and hopefully will add one or two more. We think that the females in nests one and three have now finished, as there have been no new eggs for several days.
The birds in nests four and five are still “faffing about”. This is a technical term used by chough breeders. It means that the birds are still adding (and subtracting) to the nests. Generally, the male will bring material into the nest and a few minutes later the female will take it out again!
However, the choughs in nests four and five were later last year – and they also built “looser” nests, so we are still expecting more eggs to come.
You can see the webcam here.
Merry Christmas from Operation Chough!
Seasons Greetings from Operation Chough
We wish for another great year for choughs, more choughs breeding and flying free, and more friends and partners working together to achieve many future generations of our favourite red-billed birds.
(Please note : No choughs or Photoshops were harmed in the making of this image.)
With Best Wishes,
Ray & Alison Hales
Welcome to the new Operation Chough website – a site for all dedicated Pyrrhomaniacs.
Ray Hales “Pyrrhomaniac” and hand-reared chough Ruby (A Hales)
Noun: A person who loves all things related to, or appertaining to, the Red-Billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax).
Defn: “These people are known to spend hours standing out in all weathers on the coast, waiting for the slightest glimpse of their favourite bird. In the breeding season they will sit on the cliffs and get sunstroke while watching over nest sites, or will spend hours collecting ants for the birds they are breeding.
They are also known to show a keen interest in bugs, and places where bugs live. They are not averse to flipping over cow-pats in search of bugs. They have even been found collecting cow-pats in buckets to examine the bug treasure within. They are not to be pitied – they are merely enthralled by this fabulous creature”
I welcome all my fellow Pyrrhomaniacs.