Wednesday, 3 April 2019

The Wonder of Eggs

As always I'm full of wonder and admiration when it comes to birds and their egg producing abilities.
An evolutionary miracle from a time even before the Dinosaurs. 

The Mallard duck is one of the most successful and prolific waterbird species on the Planet, and watching Disco having just laid 17 eggs I'm not surprised !  They contain all the DNA ingredients for new life and never cease to amaze me.

The incubation by the parent in itself is amazing maintaining a temperature of 99 F for a month, regardless of the changing weather conditions around them. Having 4 of Disco's eggs in the incubator I have to copy to some extent what Disco does to successfully hatch her brood. After 6 days I'm able to candle the eggs and check if they are indeed alive and viable. The photo above shows what can be observed by candling, showing the embryo and blood vessels forming. From the 9th to the 25th day, I have to allow the eggs to cool down once a day for about 15 minutes, giving them a fine mist spray before closing the incubator back to the 99 F. This is emulating exactly what the mother duck does when leaving the nest to eat and wash once a day while nesting in the wild. The eggs also have to be turned in order to prevent them sticking to the inside of the shell and dying. The final 3 days requires no more turning, a slight drop in temperature and raised humidity.

So next time you see a mother duck with a large brood of ducklings in tow,  just think what a feat she has achieved ! 

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