Stories tagged hatch

We have a chick!

by Liza on May. 14th, 2010

Yummy: The first-hatched Sherco chick of 2010 enjoys a little breakfast.
Yummy: The first-hatched Sherco chick of 2010 enjoys a little breakfast.Courtesy Raptor Resources/Xcel Energy
Almost out: We should see two more chicks make their debut appearance any time now.
Almost out: We should see two more chicks make their debut appearance any time now.Courtesy Raptor Resources/Xcel Energy
The first of the eggs out at the Sherco nest box has hatched, and it looks like two others are well on their way.


The early bird: and its nemesis: the early worm.
The early bird: and its nemesis: the early worm.Courtesy Vicki & Chuck Rogers- Best Friends
Careful observation has once again made fools of us. I always knew this would happen, but had previously assumed that it would have something to do with someone finally noticing the things I do when I think no one is watching. (And why shouldn’t I take sandwiches from the trash?)

No, in this particular case, science has shown that common knowledge isn’t always right, and that early birds do not necessarily get the worm.

“The worm” here is a metaphor for life.

Everyone knows, of course, that the early bird gets the worm. That is to say, whoever gets up first earns the right to finish off the donuts, and which ever animal is born before its siblings will be stronger and better able to compete for food (and what have you) that its good for nothing slowpoke brothers and sisters. These “late birds” lose the head start at life, and have a more difficult time catching up, if they ever do.

Recently, however, biologists at the University of North Carolina have found this little bit of wisdom to be less than entirely wise. This is not to say that early-hatching birds have lost any sort of advantage--they continue to steal worms from their younger siblings. No, early hatchers remain true to the saying, but eggs that are laid first have been found to have a significantly decreased chance of hatching at all. It seems that after laying her first egg, bird mothers aren’t all that concerned yet with settling down and incubating the little sucker. Therefore, its chances of survival take quite a dip.

What’s more, it may be that the reasons for this have to do with the fact that early (hatching) birds do tend to get the worms: if mother birds were to incubate their first egg before the rest were laid, that early hatching bird would out compete its siblings, and probably decrease the total bird output.

It’s an interesting idea, isn’t it? I compared it to my own experiences as a lifelong late bird--I was born last, am rarely early in general, and I kind of hate worms (they taste like slimy dirt. Seriously)--and it made me a little wistful for similar behavior in humans. If only my mother would have spent more time foraging and flying around in my older brother’s incubating days, things probably would have gone much better for me. There would have been more presents for me at holidays, I could have grown into a more robust physique (like the brother did), and I would have gotten the top bunk. I would have gotten the worm, if you will. If only...


On Saturday, May 26, Buzz blogger Thor Carlson emailed the staff here at the Science Museum of Minnesota that our resident peregrine falcon Athena's first egg had hatched:

Athena the peregrine falcon was quite agitated this morning and I think midday we had our first hatching. Something fuzzy seems to be fluffing out from under her and than about 2 p.m. I saw her picking her beak through half of an egg shell. With the weather being pretty drippy today, she's likely keeping the little one underneath her with the three other eggs.

Stop on up at the Mississippi River Gallery and check out the latest developments...more falcon chicks should be on the way.

Three new mouths to feed: This shot, captured late Monday (5/28) afternoon, shows three new chicks. Athena's going to be busy...

Previous news from the 2007 falcon season.