It may not be spring anymore in the Northern Hemisphere, but we’re still experiencing a spring-like baby boom on our property. The kids & I ventured up the road to a grassy ditch resplendent with Common Milkweed in search of Monarch eggs. We were not disappointed. We found ten & brought them home to raise to adults & then release. I’m sure I’ll post more on these “babies” as soon as the eggs hatch.
We have waffled back and forth several times over the last 2+ weeks regarding what the parent species is of the eggs in our bluebird nestbox. We’ve seen both Catbirds & Eastern Bluebirds on the box & in the area, but we also thought the eggs looked a bit small to belong to a bluebird. We were leaning toward robin eggs due to size, but the nesting materials didn’t include any mud and robins don’t tend to nest in nestboxes. We’ve been monitoring the box from a distance for several weeks & have never been lucky enough to spot a parent enter the nest. We were stumped. On Saturday, Merritt checked the box (following the Cornell Lab’s Certified NestWatch monitor training) and there were four chicks hatched! Still not 100% certain what species these babies are, but Brian saw an Eastern Bluebird exit the nest on Sunday while mowing. Time will tell.
And now to introduce you to “the girls” (we hope)! Most of our chicken eggs from Murray McMurray Hatchery were a big old bust. I don’t know why I forgot that every batch of eggs I’ve ever ordered from this hatchery & had delivered via the post have been this way (read: eggs don’t hatch), but I did. The one time I actually drove to the hatchery & picked up my egg order we had almost 100% successful incubation. Something about bouncing around through the mail must render the eggs infertile. In any case, we incubated 14 eggs in incubators and gave the rest (10) to our Blue Cochins in the coop as they are incredibly broody. Of those 24 eggs, THREE hatched. None of the hatched eggs were in the coop. Brian cracked all the eggs that didn’t hatch & found one fully-formed chick and that’s it. Bummer. Next spring we order chicks & pick them up as per our usual. I can only blame pregnancy for my forgetfulness about the viability of mail-delivered eggs this year.
Meet Frost. Isn’t she stunning?
This is Coralee’s chick. All our chicks are bantams (so they’ll remain small versions of their standard breed counterparts). We have no idea of the sex of any of these chicks yet, but we’re obviously hoping for females as we don’t keep roosters (unless it’s a Cochin rooster as they are incredibly sweet).
Frost is the Queen of the Clutch (or King, I suppose) and is already larger that the other two despite being born last. She struts around/scrambles quickly as if she owns the small blue Rubbermaid tub she calls home in our living room.
Meet Early. This is Merritt’s chick born almost a full 24 hours before the other two. The incubation period for chicken eggs is 21 days & we’ve found it to be pretty spot-on, so we were a bit surprised when Early arrived at 7:40AM on Day 20 & got a full day of growing in before anybody else hatched.
And finally meet Peggy. This is June’s chick.
June, at age 4, has come up with all sorts of
strange unique names for her chick, but she really wanted to name her Margaret after her “baby” out in the coop. Her “baby” is a giant, fluffy Blue Cochin that is larger than any other hen in our flock. June calls her a baby anyway as she is so sweet. I told her ‘Peggy’ was a nickname for Margaret, so let’s go with that as we don’t want two Margarets. I think because she enjoys the PBS show “Pet + Cat” she quickly agreed.
Peggy squawks a lot. And she has a bit more yellow on her chest than Early. Otherwise, they look like twins.
They are starting to develop their wing feathers already! Soon they’ll be moving to a bigger home in the garage. The kids have been pouring over hatchery catalogs & chicken books all weekend, trying to determine the chicks’ breeds. Stay tuned!