Subsequent to the amusing sight of the woodpeckers’ mating after its ‘eggxit’ as a fellow birder wittily termed it, the pair was seen to rotate its lengthy sitting in the nest.
We could take it now that brooding had started and it was observed that the nest was no more unattended from this day onward.
It was amazing to observe that each bird can spend up to seven hours in the nest without exiting during this incubation period. There was also a day when it was thought that the male stayed in the cavity from 2.15pm to 8.30am the next day because it was not seen to exit even by 7.00pm, when the park closed. On this occasion I was determined to stay till then hoping to see the last rotation before both birds retired for the day. There was no rotation, perhaps it happened after 7.00pm but this would be rather unusual because it would mean that there had be 2 rotations after 7.00pm, in the night!
Perhaps bright enough for shift change.
(On this note, it is simply a ludicrous ruling to ask everyone to leave the taman at 7.00pm just as the lights are switched on, so for whom does the taman light up?!)
So into the first week, it was observed that the birds had settled down to some kind of routine – the male spent the night, exited in the early morning by or just after 9.00am for the female to take over, and the next shift would be between 2.00pm to 4.00pm when the male returned to take over. Going by the timing of these shifts, it did look like the male can spend up to 18 hours at a stretch in the cavity – truly a feat if we got it right!
The birds were also seen to exercise caution during their exchange, ie, the bird flying in would call out before approaching the nest, and never head for it directly, i.e. they would hover around first.
The female bird was initially seen to be more cautious, scanning the surrounding, before exiting the nest, whilst the male in contrast would immediately exit once it popped its head out when the female arrived. However as the days passed, the female was seen to also behave similarly, perhaps used to the nature of its surrounding now.
Into about the 18th day we guessed that the egg or eggs could have hatched when the birds started to exchange more frequent shifts, two hours apart, but it was still difficult to ascertain because there was no tell tale sign of either adult passing food to one another or the exiting parent with discard or waste in its beak, at least no birder witnessed these todate.
Could it be that there are already chicks, that each time before the bird entered the cavity, it would peer into the cavity first as if to check on something, withdraw, then only would it enter fully?
This entire brooding session is certainly a first and learning process for many of us as we observed the birds' behaviours.
So the Question of the day, and everyday now, remains - has/have the egg/eggs hatched?
During the initial brooding stage, the male seen peeping and thrusting its head out on occasions, breaks from being cooped up for too long I guessed.
Inching towards the entrance.
A cautious landing for the male on another occasion.
A typical behaviour, peering, before the other one exits.
Sometimes it takes more than a peek, and then it will move to the side in anticipation of the mate's exit.