- Woops, I guess I claimed too much credit. I'm only a godparent.
Here's what Bob Keiffer has to say about the nest calling:
"My guess is that the calling by the one adult was essentially
"talking" to the newly hatched chicks. this is an important "imprint"
time for the youngsters. By raising gamebirds all of my life I have
learned that when young chickens hatch under a setting chicken hen that
life is just fine upon hatching. Once the chicks are dried off and
all hatched (usually about a 24 hour period) the chicks then are led
away from the nest by the brood mother. Now if you are hatching
gamebirds such as pheasants, wild ducks, quail, etc. under a bantam
chicken hen one must take precautions. The chicks MUST be locked up
with the hen for about 24 hours after hatching before you turn them
into a brood pen. If you don't the young chicks will run out from the
nest and away from the "mother" hen and die of hypothermia.
It takes that 24 hours for the gamebird chicks to "learn" the mothers
language and stick with the brood hen. This is not a problem if the
biological gamebird hen hatches the biological young ... apparently
they already instinctively know the language of their own species.
Also, hatching bird eggs actually begin to "chirp" before they are
hatched. Even when the shell is just beginning to be pipped, the
youngster can be heard chirping inside the shell. I am sure that the
young chick can hear the mother during this time also. So I believe
that imprinting actually begins BEFORE the chick is hatched. The brood
mother definitely knows when this is happening also."
> Subject: Proud Parent![Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> I am the proud parent today of one or two red-shouldered hawk
> hatchlings, and some bushtit babies as well!
> [For those of you who don't know, I've been watching a red-shouldered
> hawk nest for about a month. About 25 feet from my front door I have a
> good view of the nest, which is about 50 feet away and about 20
> degrees up (the base of the tree is down the hill). (There's another
> level view from my roof but it's twice as far away)]. I have known
> that hatching was imminent and was hoping to be around for the big
> It was an incredible morning.
> Normally there has been only one bird on the nest at a time. This
> morning one adult was sitting on the nest but she was sitting higher
> than usual - not hunkered down. As I watched, the second adult flew to
> the nest carrying a mouse. It stood on the side of the nest and tore
> chunks from the mouse. The first adult showed no interest at all in
> the mouse.
> In the past one of the adults would have left at this point. But the
> one who brought the mouse didn't leave. Instead he put his feet on the
> rump of the other one and tried to settle down into the nest. He
> stayed there for a while, kind of awkwardly half on top of her, then
> stood up and tried to nudge her to the side so he could be more in the
> nest. She was calling and calling all the while, oblivious to his
> desires, but after a while she responded to his nudging and moved a
> Finally both birds were equally ensconced in the nest, leaning
> together, heads touching, gazing straight at me and looking very cozy
> and domestic. They stayed that way for at least 15 minutes, at which
> point I had to go into my house. When I came out about half an hour
> later, one bird was standing on the nest and reaching down into it and
> eating something. She obviously wasn't tearing food off of anything,
> however, so I wondered what she could be eating. I then saw her pick
> up a goopy-looking eggshell, broken down the middle, in her bill and
> fly off with it. She came back within 30 seconds, stood on the edge of
> the nest looking down, and gingerly eased herself into the nest.
> Roger Foote came out at that point hoping for some good photographs
> (but was handicapped because he had forgotten his camera). After
> looking at the hawk nest (not much activity) we went to see the
> bushtits (who are removing fecal sacs as of today). After Roger left I
> went back to the hawk nest and saw an adult standing on the nest doing
> that same same "eating" behavior. She may have been cleaning up from
> a second hatching, or was possibly cleaning up more from the first.
> In addition to my tremendous excitement at getting to watch this
> momentous event, and know almost the exact time of the hatching, I am
> also interested to note that both birds were aware that hatching was
> about to commence, and both wanted to be there. Or perhaps there's
> some reason they both needed to be there (extra defense from
> predators?) It's also interesting that the one adult was calling so
> much just prior to the hatching. Since smaller birds are afraid of
> hawks could that have been a way to keep predators away as well?