Oh Baby!

When I tuned into the Northern Flicker stream this morning, I was in for a big surprise: the first chick had just hatched not an hour before. Two more chicks hatched in quick succession and now there are 3 squirming pink, rubbery babies in the box!

The female Northern Flicker feeds her chicks. Note the white egg tooth on the chick she is currently feeding. Photo by Jamie Simo.

It seems a little early for the chicks to have hatched given that the last egg was laid on May 23rd and, on average, it takes 11-12 days to incubate, but that IS an average after all. I was expecting the first chick on Friday, but what a way to get through the middle of the week!

The most prominent feature of the new chicks is the big white egg tooth on their beaks. The egg tooth is a hard structure that allows the chick to break through the shell of its egg since its beak and claws are pretty weak and ineffectual at this stage. Most birds and reptiles have an egg tooth, but it falls off or is reabsorbed by the animal soon after hatching.

There are still 3 eggs left to hatch in the nest, but I thought I saw a tiny hole or “pip” in one of them so there may be another chick already on the way!

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