The Raptor Cam Red-tails laid their first egg today! Mom could be seen in the nest throughout most of the afternoon watching over her new arrival. She does not appear to have begun incubation yet. Red-tails can lay up to four eggs. Eggs are typically laid 24-48 hours apart. In many instances, the hawks will not begin incubating until the 3rd or 4th egg is laid. The eggs do not begin to develop until incubation is initiated and the can go several days after laying without incubation. If the weather is particularly cold, then incubation may start immediately, but more often they will wait. If incubation is initiated right away, then the eggs will hatch in the order they are laid. This means that in a nest with four eggs, the first and last eggs might hatch up to six days apart. This gives the first hatchling a huge advantage over its later siblings. If incubation is initiated after the last egg is laid then they all hatch about the same time and have a more equal chance to compete with one another.
So the lesson here is don't worry if you see the egg sitting unincubated. This is completely normal. The parents will stay very close by to protect the egg from egg predators such as crows.
You will also note in the pictures below that there is a plastic bag in the nest (again...uggghh). More about that in the next blog...