Eggwatch 2007

“Athena”—the female peregrine falcon at the High Bridge power plant nest box—laid her first egg of 2007 on Sunday, April 15. Peregrines usually lay three or four eggs each year, so we'll be watching for more in the next few days.

Athena's first egg, 2007: Hard to see, but it's there. (It's the orange blob by her foot.) Congratulations, Athena.

The male and female falcons share the 33-day incubation duties, which include turning the eggs regularly. (The birds don't incubate the eggs in earnest, though, until they've laid all the eggs they're going to lay.) If all goes well, the baby peregrines will hatch sometime in the second half of May.

You can get daily updates here on Science Buzz, or get hourly updates by visiting Xcel Energy's High Bridge daily photos page.

Falcon chicks: Baby peregrines are helpless when they hatch, but they grow at an astonishing rate. (Courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service)

More on peregrines from Science Buzz...

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

April 16, falcon egg: sunset
First falcon egg as seen at sunset, April 16, 2007.

posted on Tue, 04/17/2007 - 9:37am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

It's been more than three days since the last egg...that's a long time. Maybe we're only getting one this year?

posted on Thu, 04/19/2007 - 1:17pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Maybe we're only getting one this year?
I doubt those birds aren't intellagent enough to lay an egg.

posted on Fri, 04/20/2007 - 12:07pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

It's not that they aren't intelligent.

Maybe conditions aren't right. Not every nest is successful every year.

Neither peregrine has spent much time incubating the egg so far, so maybe this one isn't viable anymore.

On the other hand, several nest-watchers have posted to the Falcon Forum, thinking that Athena acts like she might be ready to lay another one. And the birds don't incubate in earnest until they've laid all the eggs they're going to.

I was only questioning the timing. Usually eggs are laid only a day or a few days apart until the whole clutch is produced. And falcons usually lay 3-4 eggs. Since it's been more than 4 days since the last egg...

posted on Fri, 04/20/2007 - 1:45pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I e-mailed Jane Goggin, of the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center, and asked her a few questions. I wanted to know a) if Athena could be "egg bound"--have an egg ready to go, but be unable to actually lay it; and b) if we were likely to see any more eggs this year.

Here's her response:

"Prior to laying an egg, female birds tend to look a bit sick and lethargic. It requires a great deal of energy to lay an egg. Most any female bird can become egg bound, but it would be difficult to tell from a distance what is happening for sure.

Falcons usually lay an egg every other day. They start incubating once they have laid their 2nd or 3rd egg. The fact that “Athena” hasn’t laid another egg since Sunday would lead me to think that she won’t lay any more. There are so many things that can interrupt this process that I really can not speculate on what may have caused her to only lay one egg or why she hasn’t been incubating it."

The odds on a happy ending for this year's nest box saga keep getting worse.

posted on Fri, 04/20/2007 - 4:22pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Second falcon egg, 4/21: sunrise, 4/21
Earthday surprize. Second egg appears.

posted on Sat, 04/21/2007 - 9:27am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Way to go, Athena! I worried for nothing!

posted on Thu, 04/26/2007 - 6:19pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

That is such a beautiful bird.

posted on Sat, 04/21/2007 - 9:47am
Boo's picture
Boo says:

I Think That Athena Is Very Cute!

posted on Sun, 04/22/2007 - 3:33pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Third egg: sunrise April 23

posted on Mon, 04/23/2007 - 7:41am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Today Athena laid a 4th egg.
I'm not sure if that first one is still viable, but the birds should start incubating them now.
Hopefully we'll see chicks in mid to late May.

Proud mama: A fourth egg appeared today.

Here they are: In all their glory!

posted on Thu, 04/26/2007 - 2:01pm
Elizabeth nyberg's picture
Elizabeth nyberg says:

this museum needs real animals

posted on Thu, 04/26/2007 - 6:12pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Live animals are incredibly cool, it's true. But the Science Museum isn't really an atmosphere that's good for most animals, and we don't have the facilities or skilled staff needed to care for them.

I think the Falcon cam is amazing. The nest box is on the stack of the High Bridge power plant, which you can see from our windows. (If you're at the museum, use the spotting scope and you can see the box itself.) And what you're seeing is real, totally unmediated by humans. If there are falcons there at all, it's because they found the box and decided it was a suitable nesting site. The birds come and go as they please, and hunt their own food. They take care of their own chicks, which grow and learn to fly and hunt and then leave. And sometimes the story is sad: Athena's previous mate was killed by another peregrine in 2005, and none of her eggs hatched that year.

It's a privilege to be able to watch the birds, and vicariously enjoy their lives.

posted on Thu, 04/26/2007 - 6:18pm
Melissa's picture
Melissa says:

This is cool-I hope Athena's doing okay.

posted on Sun, 07/15/2007 - 3:02pm

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