Hot Waders, Hot Topics – Egg Incubation and Curlew Parental Nest Duties

Blog by Amanda Perkins, Curlew Country Project Manager

Juliet Bailey and Mike Smart from the Severn Vale project have noticed that the male is doing long stints of duty on the nest.  Curlew Country ornithologist Tony had observed that sometimes this male can sit for 10 hours overnight and is certainly doing most of the incubation so far.  The revelation initiated a few anthropomorphic WhatsApp’s among the small Curlew Country team.

Both male and female Curlew take turns at incubating the eggs which will take about 28-30 days until the chicks hatch.  Hours of duty and changeover times can differ between pairs.  Whilst one bird is incubating the other is feeding, resting, but also often acting as a guard bird.  In past years we have heard the partners away from the nest calling in alarm as they rise to fend off potential avian predators, often crows.

Curlew Cam has been an interesting experience for Curlew Country.  We wanted to help raise awareness of the plight of Curlew, but we have also learned a lot from close observation of the incubating birds.  The different low nest calls which we had only heard adults make to chicks as opposed to one another previously.  We had not previously observed that birds would fly straight from the nest unless in a situation of alarm.

We had always hoped to analyse our 4 years of Curlew Cam footage, but simply not had time.  Each year we get many calls from others with Curlew on their land or wanting to start a project asking us for help and advice.  Last year it was one or two per day during the season.  A number of these queries have related to changeover times.

This year, one of our new volunteers offered to analyse the footage (thank you Liz) and we are looking forward to what may be revealed.  We rely on volunteers to help us, not just our wonderful farming and land managing partners, but also the inspirational stalwarts who turn out each year to help and the new arrivals who contact us each year wanting to get involved.  We could not operate without the fantastic generosity of their spirit and time.

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