The Phoebes have been much more active and I figured it was time to go check out their new nest.
Five little chicks! That's a lot of bird to cram into one tiny little nest and a lot of bugs to be bringing in. Last year's nest was knocked down from a nasty storm so they got to building a new nest this spring. For a while I was wondering if I'd ever see any progress as they started building not only one, but three individual nests. But they eventually settled on the current location and really built themselves a nice pad. I'm not sure how old the chicks are, but if I had to guess I'd say just over a week old as that's when I think I noticed the increase in activity (and increase of little bird plops all over the porch). Bit of trivia for ya: Did you know that Phoebe chicks get kicked out of the nest around eighteen days? Wonder if Mom & Dad lets them come back after college??
My second batch of incubating eggs (over forty of them) yielded only one live hatch. And it wasn't a good live hatch at that. Usually, any leg problems we get are "splayed leg" chicks, which is easily remedied by constructing a teeny-tiny hobble out of soft cotton string and within a week they are pretty much indistinguishable from their brood mates. But this wasn't a case of splayed leg; there was some serious deformity in one leg and there was no way to splint or hobble or otherwise "fix" it. So after two days of watching it unsuccessfully walk around, I quickly ended it's life. Two 100% failed hatchings this year; almost ninety eggs worth.
The surprise Easter Chick is doing well. I opened the brooding pen two weeks ago so his mother could get some much needed outdoor time and so he could come & go as he pleased. I though for sure that he'd be picked on to the point of me having to lock him up again, but he's held his own. And I know how he does it. He's a frekking jerk. As he has yet to figure out that all chickens are supposed to go into the coop at night, I have to hand-deliver him to the coop every evening. And he pecks the crap out of me every time. And I'm not talking just peck here peck there, that bastard bites and won't let go. He almost became dinner a few days ago (another story I may share) but managed to live through it this time. He's a rooster (if you haven't already guessed by my choice in pronouns) and most roosters are usually destined for the cook pot anyhow. But given his particularly nasty behavior there is absolutely no question to his final destination; my dinner plate.
Although it seems as if my artificial incubating forays have been a complete disaster, I do have one - two actually - good things come from the weeks & weeks of incubator time:
|Meet Jake & Elwood, my first turkey poults!|
And as if to mock my continuing feeble attempts at artificial incubation and the unnatural brooding of poultry, Mother Nature has given me a big eye-roll and provided me with not one, but two broody hens.
They have been on their nests for over a week now. When I first realized that they were going broody, I took the pullet eggs from them and replaced them with the older hen's eggs, hoping to get a better hatching rate from them. The barred rock has six or seven eggs under her and the black hen is sitting on maybe eight eggs. I really wish I could have shoved more eggs underneath them, but I didn't have many from the older hens.
So you win some and you lose some (like NINETY frekking eggs!!!), but time and life marches on.