Sunday, June 19, 2011

Single Spotted Flycatcher and Blackcap, along with two Sand Martins, gave a glimmer of hope that some birds were moving, but nothing else materialised. A further 31 Swallow pulli were ringed, as were the first Skylarks of the year.

The clutch of five will all have hatched within eight hours of each other. The young are fed almost immediately by the incubating female and the male brings food within the first two hours. The blind chicks open their wide black and yellow gapes in response to a feeding call given by the adults. Their eyes open on the fourth day from when the chicks also begin to call for food. On the fifth day the chicks will leave the nest to collect food from the incoming parent but will always return to the nest. Over the next couple of days they venture further from the nest but return to roost. After about eight or nine days the young will spontaneously leave the nest, although sometimes lured by calls from the adults. (c) Richard Brown

The chicks are amazingly well camouflaged, but this is not the only way that they avoid bringing unwanted attention to themselves. They produce convenient faecal sacks so as to not litter the nest area with their bright white poo. The adults will actually eat these sacks when the chicks are small! As the chicks, and sacks, get larger the adults begin to collect the deposits and fly them away from the nest area. (c) Richard Brown

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