Saturday, 12 November 2016

Frogmouth fledging time

This post is probably going to get updated a few times as the event hasn't yet happened.  I have put a few items on Facebook but I am not sure for how long they hang around so thought I should do a compilation in this medium.

In the past I have come across two definitions of fledging:
  1. a young bird leaving the nest ; and
  2. a young bird taking its first flight.
Some people have said there is no difference between the 2 definitions as once birds leave the nest they fly.  This is not the case with Tawny Frogmouths.  

On the morning of 11 November at 0530, the male adult was not in the nest and both chicks were vigorously flapping their wings.  However take off did not happen, and Dad returned shortly thereafter.   About 3 hours later this was the situation:
The more adventurous chick is clearly out of the nest.  It still hasn't flown but in the last 10 minutes there has been much stretching of wings.  As has happened in the past this situation more or less continued through the day, with me on tenterhooks, wondering if one or both chicks were going to fall out of the nest.

They didn't.  By 1915Hrs dusk was falling and  everyone was still in the nest fork but looking alert.  I watched them closely after 1945 and about 1955 Dad took off. The two chicks started bobbing up and down and constantly turning. MUCH flapping of wings but no lift off.  It was  completely dark by 2015 and the chicks were still in the nest or very close thereto.

On the morning of 12 November at 0600Hrs they were still in the nest.  During the day of the 12th it was very windy, but as far as I could tell the chicks were less twitchy than the previous day.  
In the evening (from about 1950) they became more active with a lot of walking around the nest and wing flapping.  Dad took off at 2003 and they became very active.  Mum came by at 2016 and didn't, as far as I could see feed them, but departed after about a minute.  One of the adults came by and fed at least one chick at 2016, by which time it was pretty well impossible to see anything.

It was possible to see the nest at 0525 on 13 November and it was full of chicks.  Both standing around and flapping their wings very energetically.  They appeared to be very similar in size.Dad returned at 0530, landing on the branch to the left of the nest and sliding in.  He then assumed the position.

The wind was very strong throughout 13 November and I was a bit concerned that the chicks might get blown away.  However all was good.  Dad left at 20:02 and Mum came at 20:04 and fed one chick. Dad (I think) came back at 20:12 and a parent came in again at 20:13 and again at 20:14.  I gave up due to darkness at 20:20, with both chicks still in the nest.

The 14th of November began in a very similar way to the previous day.  At 0520 both chicks were visible in the nest, and Dad returned at 0525, feeding the chicks and then settling down for the day. A little later I discovered that Mum has also roosted in the nest tree.  
This is the first time I have observed her doing so: in 8 years the only other time I have seen her in that tree in daylight was when she joined in fighting off some bastard Currawongs (who, so far this year, have been quite peaceable towards the Frogmouths - and me).

The evening was interesting in that the parnts seem to have decided that the time has come for change.  (My entry for anthropomorphism of the decade.)  Dad first flew off about 1945 which caused a small panic and chick 1 scrambled quite a distance up a branch. See upper arrow in fuzzy photo.
It returned once an adult appeared.  Over the nest 35 minutes both parents visited the nest several times but didn't seem to transfer food despite much head bobbing by the chicks.  At one point Dad sat on a branch about 2/3rd of the way tp Mum's roost today.  Both chicks were making a strange barking type noise and I think I could hear the adults " ooming".  However when it got too dark to see the chicks were still in the nest!  Grrrrr!

At 0520 on the 15th the chicks were still in the nest.  Dad flew in and in stead of immediately covering the chicks hopped about near the nest.  After about a minute he fed one chick and covered them.  The evenings observations were very similar to the previous night.  The upshot is that they are still in the nesy at 0520 on the 16th!  This is some 6 days after I thought they would leave.

The first chick flew at about 2004 on the evening of  16 November.  It did briefly fly back to the nest but took off again.  Adults came in several times over the next 15 minutes while the stay-at-home begged for food but didn't get any.  The flying chick was perched in the nest tree, about 5m above the nest. By 2020 it was simply too dark to see anything.

At 0520 on 17 November the stay-at-home was still in the nest and looking rather distressed.  By 0525 the flyer had rejoined it and by 0535 Dad was back as well.  This is all causing me much thought about what has happened in past years: 
  • is this "in and out" normal and I just haven't noticed it; or 
  • is this further unusual behaviour?
Here is a photo taken using my iPhone adapter.
By 1545 further unusualness had occurred in that Dad had climbed about 70cm up a branch away from the nest, leaving the chicks sitting below peering up at him.  Mum has spent the whole day in the nest tree, about 10m from the nest.  (It is a very big tree.)

The twilight events involved Dad flying off at 2001 and Chick 1 going off almost immediately.  Frances and I spent the next 20 minutes watching Chick 2 getting very close to flying several times but not actually taking off.  An adult visited once or twice.  By 2025 it's too dark to see anything from my study.  At 2110 I went outside and by my headlight I could see that both chicks were back in the nest.

At 0520 on the 18th only Chick 2 was in the nest looking very agitated as it flaps around.   At 0525 Chick 1 flew in and Chick 2 appeared to beg for food from it.  I don't think it got any.  By 0535 an adult was also in the nest.

We then headed off to Mallacoota for 6 days and when we returned I found the family on a roost they have used in previous years up near our big shed.  Thanks goodness.


Anonymous said...

thrilling just reading about it, thanks

Flabmeister said...

Thanks Nonny Mouse. Especially in the stages where one had left but the other wouldn't, I rated it as stressful - which could be a synonym for thrilling!


Jeni from Northern Rivers Dreaming said...

Wonderful, we learned so much, thank you :)