The partridge which began sitting a few weeks ago has been impressively steadfast in her attempts to incubate the plastic eggs I gave her. So much so that I replaced them with real eggs on day 22 of a 24 day incubation process this morning. I had imagined that she wouldn’t tolerate my being anywhere near her, but as I lifted up the drinker stand which hides her nest, she didn’t move a muscle. I carefully pulled each plastic egg out from under her and replaced it with a real one while she did nothing more than puff up into a perfect sphere, hissing dramatically. She had laid another two real eggs into the clutch of plastic ones, so their hatch dates might be a little off, but otherwise the transaction was surprisingly straightforward.
I wonder if she knows that the moment of truth is approaching and is reluctant to leave the nest as a result. Grouse become much less likely to abandon their nests in the face of predators when the hatch date approaches, and it could be that this little hen was sticking to her guns after having come so far with the sitting process. I can’t resist getting my hopes up that she might be able to bring off some chicks of her own.