Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More ducklings

OR Pip PIP and all that rot? It was getting apparent that the Mom Call duck was ending the period of time for her eggs to begin opening. Which is how our eldest son and I got onto the subject of “Pips” and “Egg Tooth”. Pip. 1. The hole a newly formed chick makes in its shell when it is ready to hatch. 2. The act of making the hole. Egg tooth. A horny cap on a chick's upper beak that helps the chick pip through the shell. The chick will begin to chip away at the star pip until he's made a hole about the size of a dime. This is called the hole pip. We can see the chick's beak and part of his face through this hole, and we can see him breathing. He also sounds much louder when he peeps. Once the chick has opened up the hole pip, he'll then methodically chip away at the large end of the shell in a line around the egg, turning completely around as he goes. He's cutting the top of the egg off, the way you would if you were eating a soft-boiled egg. It looks like this would be the hardest job of hatching, removing the top of the whole egg, but most chicks finish this task in less than an hour, then kick their way out. I had remembered about the egg tooth from back in Junior High School [that’s what they called it then] and the Science Fairs I did. I still have all the medals, somewhere, that I received. As I told our son, the PIP I did not recall. Other than an expression that goes like this: Pip PIP and all that rot? It seems it is tied up in, well at least Charles Dickens and Great Expectations, which was mandatory reading back in the day. The Mom Call duck chose to make her first ever nest in our garage behind a large table that is leaning against the back wall. My Sweetie noticed she seemed to be dragging all sorts of nesting materials into the soon to be nursery. We gleefully added one orange bath towel, that I recall was a wedding gift to us almost 35 years ago. Although the Crate and Barrel bag was humorous… She must like to shop! Sunday afternoon my Sweetie announced the first birth and added Happy Mothers Day. We diligently checked on her. Late Sunday evening I thought I heard two distinctly different Peeps! Come Monday our son said he saw three. Now it is apparent we need to closely watch the Mom and begin to transfer the babies to a brooder as the Call Duck is so small and our cats way to curious. The plight was when and how? The Call duck is the smallest breed of domestic duck, weighing only 1-1/2lbs. They were literally developed as calling ducks, to call down the wild mallard to the great traps or decoys of the Fenlands of the UK and the marshes of Holland. By mid day and many stops from mowing, weed-eating, and other stuff our son said we had better move them now because one wee one was outside the nest and thoroughly confused. The brooders were ready for the pending inhabitants. He got Mom first; she was not too pleased and showed her displeasure adding a mass of droppings all over his shirt. We then gathered all 7 babies as well as Moms nest with 5 additional eggs. She and the babies faired well the night but I do believe today or tomorrow we shall release her to be with her mate. There was a tragedy yesterday as the second male got killed as he ventured too close to the highway. Which is odd because none of them, to our knowledge traveled so close to the road. In deference to the father missing his buddy and knowing full well where his female is we think this wise decision. It appears all the ducklings look like their father! Like miniature Mallards. Mom

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