Saturday, May 5, 2012

It takes a village... whether you want help or not...

Sean had returned the two eggs we borrowed to the nest, slipping them under Reddi Hen with no difficulties, while Momma duck was off eating. I had already finished feeding the critters and had my camera ready in case anything interesting happened. I planned on snapping some photographs of Reddi Hen sitting on the nest of eggs. The nest now contains 8 duck eggs and 3 chicken eggs; the birds seem to be a little confused about who owns this particular nest. I worried that Momma Duck might decide to abandon her nest if Reddi Hen were to continue to set. I had nothing to worry about!

I captured this video of Momma Duck approaching her nest. I imagine her politely quacking, "Okay, I'm home. You may go." To which Reddi Hen replies, "Step off. This is my nest!" I stayed to watch, ready to intervene should that become necessary. It wasn't. Reddi Hen stood to adjust her feathers and just like that, Momma Duck slid her bill under the hen and neatly settled on the nest under a bewildered hen. Reddi Hen seemed to take the change in circumstances well. She fluffed up her feathers and squeezed back through the chain fencing to a dish of cracked corn without a backward glance.

We had more duck eggs in the nest. I don't know where they went. It may be that some of the eggs were "bad" and they might have been rejected by Momma Duck. They may have been consumed by the Piggies, stolen by a rat, or eaten by a chicken. I hope the rest of the eggs hatch out. It will be interesting to see if the 3 chicken eggs in the nest hatch, too. (I candled them this week and could not tell if they were fertilized eggs. I put them back just in case and will check them again later.)

I wanted to get a picture of the developing duck eggs yesterday, but I could not figure out how to snap the photo without my light getting in the way. With my naked eye, I could see some definite developments within the eggs, but trying to get it to show well with my camera one handed was just impossible for me. There were just no good shots!

 I tried again today with the help of Sean. He held the egg and light and I snapped some pictures. This system worked much better! We candled two of the Mallard eggs from the nest. You can really see the veining and developing embryo. One egg looks slightly more developed than the other did.
It is hard to date the beginning of growth. On April 20th, we couldn't tell if any of the eggs were developing. On April 28th, we could see defined veining. By May 5th, we could see the embryo growing. This is our first attempt, but we think the ducklings are about 14 days old, which means we could be reporting the nest hatching in as little as 2 more weeks! 
I will keep posting pictures and some video when and if the little ones emerge. In the meantime, I found this chart that I thought was very helpful to see the changes taking place.

Have a great night, folks!
Sonja ♥ 


  1. Do chickens and ducks take the same time to develop? I am not versed in the ways of bird growth.

  2. Chicken eggs generally take only 21 days from the time the hen starts sitting on them. Ducks take about a week longer than that. I don't think the chicken eggs are fertilized, but just in case, I put them back. We have a broody chicken and are planning on letting her try to naturally hatch a clutch of eggs. We are also borrowing an incubator to try to hatch eggs that way, too. If the chicken eggs are fertile, they will begin signs of development, much the same as the duck eggs did and we can decide how to assist their healthy hatching. ♥