This is the sequence of the pictures taken as mama leads them from the nest, taken with our critter cam from 12:42 pm - 12:43 pm this afternoon. I tried to make a video from these pictures so you could see the movement flow, but I can't get Blogger to upload it. I'll narrate the sequence best I can. You can click on the picture to make it larger if you like.
Mama leading 4 chicks, one directly behind her mostly hidden on her right side and 3 behind her to her left, and to the right of the picture. You can also see a piece of an egg shell in front of the chicks.
And then the Grouse family was out of the camera's range. If my presumption is correct that there are 4 deceased chicks, it is likely there are 6 following mama. Since this would mean a 60% survival rate at this point, I choose to go with it! I hope they all survive out there in the woods.
We did dry out the camera, replace the batteries and the memory card, and posted it near the nest but facing away, in case mama or any of the chicks return. I do find that unlikely, since the ones that didn't make it are still in the nest (I'm not posting that photo, though I did take one for my records).
So here are a few things I learned about our nesting mama Grouse after studying the 924 pictures our critter cam took over the past 12 days...
- when she left the nest due to a predator (like us) or to forage, she returned within 30 minutes or less
- when she left the nest, she varied her departure and return routes, creating no sure predator's path to the nest
- she left the nest less frequently as the chicks were getting ready to hatch
- she did not frighten easily, because a squirrel came right up to the nest, and she ruffed herself up and the squirrel left
- at one point we saw 3 adult Ruffed Grouse in a photo, not sure if one was her mate, but we thought that was awesome
- mama Grouse and her hatching chicks were not affected by the hail storm last night; you could see hail all around the nest, but mama obviously knew what she was doing when she chose that sight!
PS Our garden only had a little hail damage, we were lucky the sprouts were still small. Several flowers and bushes did not fare so well, but we are certainly grateful that it was not worse than it was. Our hearts go out to everyone in Moore, Oklahoma who have been devastated by the tornado, may they find strength in each other and heal quickly.
Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,