Practice: the egg

We all know what a canary egg looks like, don’t we?  Pale blue with some reddish splodges.  It may be a miracle of nature, but our real interest does not go much further than wondering whether it will deliver a chick into this world.  This season has reminded me that eggs are not that simple.

Let’s start with a typical egg container, each compartment numbered and containing up to three eggs before being returned to the nest.  You can see mine in the photo at the head of this article (before you ask, these numbers correspond to the cages, not the number of pairs).  Now let’s look at a close-up of one compartment.   Can you see how one egg is larger than the other?  The smaller egg is a typical size.  You might think that a large egg would be an advantage (large egg = large chick), but a Border-breeder friend tells me that large eggs never produce anything.  He was certainly right as far as this egg was concerned.

Egg large 2016-fss

Now for the opposite extreme: a small egg.  Here is an example that was the size of a pea.     It was the last egg in a clutch of four.  I didn’t bother waiting to see if it would hatch.

Egg small 2016-fss

This season has produced two examples of eggs that even the greatest optimist would admit were doomed: shell-less eggs.  The shell is just about the last thing to be formed before an egg is laid, and presumably there was a malfunction in the process here.  Stranger still is that the eggs laid before and after this example had shells as normal.

Egg no shell 2016-fss

Finally, have you ever what happens to the shell after a chick hatches?  The books tell you that you will find a broken egg shell on the floor.  This photo was taken soon after a chick had hatched.  I saw it emerging and rushed out to get my camera.  By the time I got back (a few minutes) half the eggshell had disappeared.  Ten minutes later it had all gone; consumed by the hen.  I have bred around 30 chicks so far, but only found the left-overs of two eggshells on the floor.

Chick few minutes old-fss