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10 June 2007: Finally the female stops brooding

June 11th, 2007

After nearly 2 months of brooding, the female has given up. The young should have hatched about 13 days after the start of brooding, so she has gone on in vain for over 6 weeks. The instincts are primitive, if there are eggs, brood, if there are young, feed. She has no notion of how long brooding should take, she carries on regardless. It is unclear what triggered her to stop now, the eggs still look the same as always. Pity it had to end this way, hopefully next year will be more normal, and there will be a normal brood.

21-30 April 2007: It gets hot again

April 30th, 2007

It gets hot again (20-25 degrees C), unfortunately. The female can’t stay on the nest too long during the day, it is just too hot. The eggs should have hatched around the 26th of April, but they haven’t. The female still broods, but eyes the eggs suspiciously; she probably feels that there is something wrong. The brood is dead I fear, but she doesn’t give up yet. I must find a way to shelter my nest box from the sun, otherwise I won’t get a succesful brood with these temperatures…

17-20 April 2007: Less hot, normal brooding

April 30th, 2007

It gets less hot, and the female can brood normally; she hardly leaves the nest. The male drops in occasionally, maybe once or twice a day to bring a morsel of food.

16 April 2007: Male offers breakfast

April 26th, 2007

Fortunately, it is less hot today. In the morning, the male comes in and offers the female a snack in the form of a caterpillar. She broods on contently. It is only a symbolic gesture though, he does not repeat it this day…

14-15 April 2007: Hot!

April 25th, 2007

The temperatures these 2 days are very high for spring in the Netherlands. Normal brooding isn’t possible during the day, the female comes in frequently, spreads the feathers on her tail and wings to provide shadow for the eggs (although they are not in direct sunlight). She can’t keep up that position for longer than 2-3 minutes, and then she leaves the nest box, only to return a few minutes later. Unfortunately, my camera also has trouble with the temperature/light conditions, so I can’t show you properly how this looks.

13 April 2007: Eighth and last egg

April 16th, 2007

My prediction 2 days earlier was not correct, the eighth egg is the last. Brooding has started in earnest; however, it gets unusually hot outside (for the time of the year) and the female leaves the nest more than normal because it gets too hot inside the nestbox. Hopefully this will not damage the brood…

Egg number 8, the last