A CahowCam Star is born!
Both adult Cahows then took turns incubating the egg, with the female incubating a total of 25 days, the male for 22 days, and both adults together for 4 days.
Faint cheeps from the nearly ready to hatch chick were heard from inside the egg on the evening of March 1st. On Thursday 2nd March, after 51 days of incubation, the chick started to chip its way out of the egg, with the first hole in the eggshell seen around 4.00am.
At about 7.30pm that evening, the male Cahow returned to take over incubation, and was probably surprised to find the chick already hatching! Shortly after the female departed to sea, the chick started to break free of the egg, and by 9.45pm the chick had freed itself from the last of the eggshell, allowing us to officially confirm hatching!
The still-wet chick will be closely brooded by the male bird until it is fully dried out, which should take about 2-4 hours. We should then get a good look at the chick, which will have dried out to become the familiar grey fluffball, insulated by a thick double layer of soft down. This down will enable the chick within 2 or 3 days to be able to survive without being warmed by the adults, which will spend most of their time at sea foraging for food for the chick. The chick will only see the adults for an hour or two every few days when they arrive on feeding visits, after which they return to sea to forage for the chicks next meal. It is not unusual for adults to stay with the chick for a few days, especially when the chick is still young.
Geolocator tags fitted to the adult Cahows have confirmed that they can travel between 1500 and 4000 miles during each foraging trip - to feed the chick once! These foraging trips can last from 3 to 10 days or more and take the adult Cahows to the south of Nova Scotia, up to the Grand Banks or even almost as far as the Azores Islands, with the birds generally looking for food in the cooler waters north of the Gulf Stream. The adults will have to keep this up for the next 85 to 95 days, when the chick is ready to fledge out to sea on its own in late May or early June.
Jeremy Madeiros | Senior Conservation Officer (Terrestrial) | Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources | BERMUDA