Phoebe’s 8 eggs began hatching on Sunday. Our first clue was an empty eggshell sitting in the main section of the small coop we use for brooding: it had the “freshly hatched from” look, with the dried membrane and reddish tint inside. We tried to peek into the nest box section, but she was having none of that and puffed up so we couldn’t see beneath her.
When we were finally able to really look at the brood, we saw that 7 had hatched. We figured the last was a dud based on what had happened with Coraline’s hatch in April – she eventually just abandoned one unhatched egg after waiting an extra couple of days. When Phoebe emerged from the broody house with her brood, we knew the last egg wasn’t going to hatch.
We tapped the egg just to check if there might be life inside, but nothing tapped or peeped back. The egg sounded strange inside – something thudded against the walls of the shell when we rolled it from side to side. None of this boded well.
It turns out the egg was infertile, so wouldn’t have hatched. What we were hearing/feeling was a dried-up egg mass inside the shell. We tossed it on the compost pile and, to our surprise, the chickens tore into it like it was a delicacy.
The broody-hatched ducklings begin eating grass and bugs right away, probably because they see mama duck doing it. One duckling (2 days old now) grabbed an enormous worm – these things look like small snakes and are super wiggly – and gobbled it up. Good thing we put chick grit out already – that worm’s going to need some serious “chewing” in the duckling’s gizzard.
While it’s been fun watching Coraline and Phoebe hatch eggs in late spring and summer, we’re hoping the girls have stopped being broody for the season. All three ducks have been laying nice big eggs, and in a couple of months, Phoebe will probably resume laying, too. Maybe it will be Piper’s and Pru’s turns to raise ducklings next year. The ducks do it best!