You read that right: pipping.
It's a birding term for when the baby bird starts to break through the shell to hatch.
I am told that I might be able to see signs of pipping before any hatching occurs, and I've read an article from 80 years ago about screech owls that says that there's pipping in screech owl eggs for a couple of days before an owlet emerges.
I had not even thought to look for "pipping" before, because I've never had a screech-cam before. But I detected no pipping when Mrs. Ace went for her bathroom break tonight.
I have been in contact with a pair of birders in nearby Ramsey, who have a screech owl nesting box in their backyard, but no screech cam.
Lately around the dusk, they've seen some activity at the opening -- an indication that a female might be sitting on eggs. But it's only a guess.
Forget about checking for pipping. They'll have to wait for a few more weeks, probably, to even see if any owlets stick there heads out of the opening.
That's a magical moment -- when you first see an owlet peering out of a nesting box -- and a nest camera spoils some of that sense of wonderment and discovery.
Still, at this point, I'll take the screech-cam any time.
Even with a monitor on the four eggs 24/7, I am still on the edge of my seat.