May 29th 2018
“Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched”, the old saying goes. And so it was with our thirteen fertile chough eggs. Most of our eggs did hatch – sadly, some did not survive.
For reasons known only to the choughs themselves, the eggs in nests three and five were taken out by the parent birds. We checked the CCTV. Nothing unusual. No disturbance. Very odd. (Nest five had an evening feed as normal, and the female simply never got back on the eggs).
However, we now have eight chough chicks, in various family groups at various stages of growth. Nest number one has three chicks, hatched on May 10th and 12th. All are growing well, and rapidly destroying the nest as they do so.
One chick was noticed to be breathing heavily and “crackling” – a clear indication of gapeworm infection. As a precaution we pulled all three chicks from the nest and dosed them with specific amounts of Ivomectin. All are now back to full vigour.
Nest number four has a single chick hatched on May 14th. Sadly the other two eggs in this nest did hatch, but the chicks died as they emerged.
Nest number two has become our favourite – producing four chicks at the first attempt. Three hatched on May 17th, and the last kept us guessing until May 19th. Our main concern was for this final chick, who was obviously going to be the last to get to any feeds.
Each day, we would take the chicks out to monitor growth, and each day we would favour chick number four with supplementary feeds. It has now caught up with it’s siblings.
The parent birds on nest number two, are proving to be very capable. Both birds attend the youngsters, and both take turns feeding and taking out the faecal sacs.
One delightful surprise, is that the female likes to have a wash and brush-up in the afternoons. We have noticed her coming in to the nest freshly washed on several occasions. This may not just be vanity, it may be that she is actually cooling the youngsters as they are all crammed in the nest together, they may possibly be getting to hot.