Saturday, 5 November 2011

Frogmouth chicks branch out!

This morning (5 November both Tawny Frogmouth chicks and the male parent had left the nest and were roosting about 5m along the same branch as the nest.  I don't know if they walked there or if they have taken their maiden flight, so for the time being I will borrow a term from the sea-eagle cam and say they have 'branched'.  (Later observation  - see below - suggests that the maiden flight  or fledging actually occurred on 7 November.) Here they are on 5 November!
Here are some summary dates for the events of the last 4 years: check the notes below the table for important comments.

2008 2009 2010 2011
On nest 2-Oct 5-Sep 2-Sep 7-Sep
Hatch behaviour ? ? 1-Oct 5-Oct
Visible evidence 6-Nov 18-Oct 4-Oct 15-Oct
Nest empty 27-Nov 5-Nov 4-Nov 7-Nov

Total period 56 61 63 61

  1. The shortness of the period in 2008 may reflect my not noticing the occupied nest until some days after brooding started.
  2. Hatch behaviour refers to the brooding male being very restless.  This was not noticed in 2008 and I was absent on the critical days in 2009.
  3. Visible evidence refers to the first sighting of a chick for 2008 - 10 and sighting of eggshell in the nest fabric for 2011.
  4. Due to the different position of the nest in 2011 less time per day was spent observing.
  5. The comparative lengths of the periods in 2011 cf 2010 causes me to think that the young birds had not made their first flight by 5 November.
I went, with my spotlight, to check the situation after dark on 6 November.  The chicks had moved back closer to the nest.  Initially they were alone but an adult flew in with food (presumably grenouille a la mode).   I think it is too soon to say they have taken their first flight.
Note:  this image has been very significantly 'digitally enhanced' to make the chicks visible.  The edge of the nest is just visible poking into the RHS of the image.

On 7 November at about 8:30 the nest and the branch on which it was located was empty of frogmouths.  I searched the garden and surrounds but couldn't find the birds (although an adult bird flew over me at one point).  After daybreak on 8 November I again searched for the birds and found the whole family about 40m from the nest tree.  The position of the male-plus-chicks was directly over the point where the bird flew over me the previous evening: the birds have now definitely fledged.
The chicks - while as cute as always - seem to need a bit of work to get the camouflage pose quite right!
Talking of cute, try this one from 9 November for beating kittens!
The separation between the two adults is very typical of the way this family has situated itself, at this point of the family cycle, over each of the 4 years I have been studying them.  The image also shows clearly the tawnier colour of the female.  (For determining the sex of the bird that is a more reliable field mark than the body shape, which can vary dramatically according to the posture being adopted at the point in time.)


Denis Wilson said...
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Denis Wilson said...

You're missing the best part of the story - their cuteness.
Love those birds.