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Sat, Dec. 07

Column: Incubation and fledging time periods vary

We are frequently asked questions here at the bird store relating to nesting activity. Many folks have the pleasure of watching birds building nests near their homes, perhaps in a hanging flower basket or in a potted plant in the entryway. Sometimes nests are built on door wreaths, or on light fixtures or even in the garage!

Perhaps you have wondered, "How long does it take for dove eggs to hatch?" And, once they have hatched, "How long does it take before the babies are capable of leaving the nest?" Today's column will provide this information for some of the more common species in the Prescott area.

Gambel's quail: Clutch size is variable but typically somewhere between 12 to 18 eggs. The eggs are elliptical in shape, with one end being large and rounded and the other end being pointed. The eggs are a buffy, beige color and are heavily spotted with blotchy brown markings. After the mother has finished laying the whole clutch, (which can take up to three weeks) it will be between 21 and 24 days before the chicks begin to hatch out. The baby quail will usually leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching, and they will not return to the nest.

Mourning dove: A typical nest has two eggs, which are pure white. The incubation period is approximately 13 to 14 days, after which it takes another 12 to 14 days before the chicks are ready to leave the nest. Both the male and the female take turns incubating the eggs, and both share the responsibility of feeding the young.

Anna's hummingbird: Typically lay two small, white eggs, which are unmarked. The incubation period is 14 days on the low end, all the way up to 19 days on the high end. Once the eggs hatch, it is anywhere from 18 to 23 days before the young will leave the nest. The male does not help incubate the eggs or raise the young-the female does all of the incubating and provides all of the care for the young after hatching.

Northern flicker: Clutch size can range from five to eight pure white eggs. Incubation duties are shared by both the male and the female, and the eggs hatch anywhere from 11 to 14 days. The fledging period is long, taking between 25 to 28 days before the young are ready to leave the nest.

Western scrub-jay: Clutch size ranges between three and six eggs on average. Eggs are a pale green color, with a small amount of reddish-brown markings. The female does the incubating, which takes between 15 and 17 days, after which it will be another 18 to 19 days before the young will leave the nest.

Spotted towhee: Usually lay three or four creamy white eggs that have brown spots. Incubation is between 12 and 13 days, and the fledging period is between 10 and 12 days, which is pretty quick!

House finches: A typical clutch consists of four or five small bluish-white eggs. The female does the incubating but the male is very attentive and frequently brings food to the female as she sits on the nest. It takes anywhere from 12 to 14 days for the eggs to hatch and another 11 to 19 days before the chicks are ready to leave the nest.

I hope you have the privilege of witnessing nesting activity in your yard this spring. Happy Birding!

If you have specific questions or issues related to wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, you can submit them to Jay's Bird Barn, 1046 Willow Creek Road, Suite 105, Prescott, AZ 86301 or log onto and click on Ask Eric, which will link you with my e-mail address,

Eric M. Moore is the owner of Jay's Bird Barn and has been an avid birder for more than 40 years.

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