Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dinner is Served...... Finally

It was thrilling today to see the two hatched eyasses looking so strong and active. As the hours passed, however, it was noticeable that the tiercel (male) seemed to be missing in action. He was supposed to be bringing back food for his mate, and food suitable for the eyasses' first meals.

The formel seemed increasingly intent on the surrounding airspace, as if looking for him, and she flew off the nest a couple of times, leaving the eyasses alone and unprotected. In the remarkable video below, we see the formel returning to her still only hours old hatchlings carrying a sizeable leafy branch which she then gently places over them, as if to camouflage and protect them.

Was she thinking that she had to go out on a hunting expedition for food, and needed to protect the defenseless eyasses?

Just as it was starting to look quite serious for the welfare of the eyasses, the tiercel zoomed in with a large pigeon-sized meal for his formel. If we could read beaks, the formel was probably saying something along the lines of, "Where the HECK have you been? And how am I supposed to feed these little guys with that tough old bird? Get back out there, and bring me back some eyass food, and be quick about it!"

The video clip below shows the tiercel making two food deliveries, the second of which is a small mouse, in which the formel immediately shows great interest and then takes to carefully feed the now very hungry eyasses.

Following the video is commentary from John Blakeman on these events.

John Blakeman comments:

"Actually, I think there's some real science or raptor psychology behind all of this. None of this is random, by-chance stuff. This sudden change in hunting, feeding, and prey provision patterns of the tiercel I think relates to the new eyasses and the new behaviors of the formel. I saw her looking with an intensity this afternoon that she never expressed during incubation. She was acting differently, and the tiercel could have seen and understood that.

And he is probably acting differently, too. His hunting may be different, and his impulses to bring prey to the nest are now different. In short, it may take a day or so for him to settle into new hunting and feeding patterns.

He now has a giant task for the next 10 to 14 days or so, where he has provide for two haggards, his formel and himself, and two fast-growing eyasses. The formel won't be off hunting for some time yet. Lots of weight on the tiercel's wings now.

The eyasses, as much as we were concerned, weren't in any real danger. They had been fed earlier in the day, and in the first day or two they are not metabolically cranked up to full speed. If they were still in the egg, things would be gentle, quiet, and requiring only low energy inputs. That's one reason they spend so much time all flopped over, looking almost dead sometimes for the early days out of the egg.

I saw no indications of pipping in the remaining egg, so it may not hatch tonight. The other two eyasses didn't read my message about how long it can take between pipping and hatching. They just jumped right out of the egg last night.

One last conjecture. The third egg is very likely to hatch. I hope it does. But if it doesn't, I'm certain that its failure would reflect the harsh hunting weather in March, preventing the formel from getting a full and continuous load of egg-making food.

Oh, I did see the formel talk to her eyasses this morning. I saw the very slight beak movement that red-tails make when they are quietly uttering something. It was just plainly cute -- and I was the only person who understood, perhaps."

--John Blakeman


  1. brilliant Della- you should really write a book this year, with Pix by Kay, video by CamFan, and commentary by John- a sure best seller!!!

    Thanks as always,


  2. What a day for you, Della! Opened the paper; there you were with
    Kay. At 5 o'clock you were interviewed during a segment on NPR
    revealing your secret fear of birds! Your blog is a haven from the
    weird tweets. Thank you so much for continuing on w John Blakeman,
    Kay, CamFan ,Carolyn and all the regulars.
    All the best for the months ahead,