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Responses to various questions from Audubon

by Bob Sallinger


Posted on April 17, 2009 at 6:35 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:39 PM

The hatching of the first two eggs has generated lots of questions. I will try to answer a few of them here:

1) When will the third egg hatch: The third egg was laid several days after the second egg so there may be a significant gap between the time they hatch. However the first two eggs were late in hatching possibly due to the colder weather. Remember too of course that not all eggs are necessarily viable.

2) Will the last hatching be at a disadvantage: There can be competition on the nests especially for nestlings that are considerably behind their siblings in their development. However, the parents are good providers and there is a healthy prey base so they may all do just fine.

3) Are the two chicks that have hatched already fighting? Folks have noted that they appear to be pecking at ea'sch other and are wondering if they are already competing. The answer is probably not---they don't see very well yet. They are probably just responding to one another movement and that is causing them to try and nose about for food. Noise and movement will trigger a feeding response. Their necks are not strong yet so they tend to flop all over the place.

4) Why is the male bringing in greenery? Some have speculated that he is romantic. Others have speculated that it serves as insect repellent. Couldn't it be both? Isn't it romantic to shield your loved ones from annoyances at such a critical moment? The greenery does serve a role in reducing insects. It also helps keep the nest clean as it starts to fill up with feathers and dander and poop from the nestlings as well as food debris. This is the northwest---we don't do all that icky-gooey romantic stuff---I think it is very appropriate for him to bring natural insect repellent. He has already brought her a bicycle inner tube. Maybe next he will bring her socks.

5) When will they fly? The average is about 44 days from egg to flight for red-tails.

6) Is all the activity around the nest bothering them? The windows next to the nest are covered so the office should not be causing them disturbance. There is a lot of activity in the vicinity in general (they are in the middle of downtown Portland!) What we worry about in terms of disturbance are activities that are new or increasing in intensity during the nesting season. The level of urban activity tends to fluctuate a lot---they have been filming a television show a few blocks from the nest during the last week and there was a rally at Pioneer Square yesterday for the Blazers. However neither of these things really was all that different from what they experience on a normal basis. If the pair were in a more remote location and less used to activity these types of things would be a huge problem for them.

Happy Birding!

Bob Sallinger
Conservation Director
Audubon Society of Portland