Darwin: A story with a happy ending.
Several years ago during a Quillisascut Hearth Bread workshop there was a clutch of duck eggs that hatched. It caused some excitement as we scooped up the ducklings and their mother to put them in a safe spot away from dogs, cats and wildlife. This is the continuing story of one of those ducklings named Darwin.
One of the eggs was slow, it was having a hard time cutting the egg open. Baby birds, at hatching time, have a little point on the top of their beak called the “egg tooth”. It is what they use to cut open the shell, called “pipping”. The “egg tooth” is on the top tip of their beak. Can you see the egg tooth on the duckling looking straight ahead, in the top left photo?
As you can imagine it’s a tight fit for the little bird all curled up inside the egg. To free themselves they sort of throw their heads back, tapping at the egg from the inside and cut their way out. It is a slow process and an amazing thing to see, the baby duck cuts off the top of the egg so the head gets free and then they start stretching their bodies and kicking out of the shell.
Sometimes the duckling never makes it out of the shell, it is too weak or there is some other problem. It is hard to sit by and not lend a hand, but it is probably better for the health of the duckling and the flock to simply let nature take its course. (obviously, we are not very good at following this advice and for Darwin, it all turned out okay)
In the *video the question of what will happen with the little duck remains to be decided. Never fear it all turned out happy for lucky Darwin who turned out to be female and is now a very protective mother. *(When the video is posted on youtube, I will let you know.)
Darwin is a Muscovy duck, it takes 35 days for the eggs of the Muscovy breed to incubate. When the mother duck sits on the eggs she keeps them warm, moist, and turns the eggs each day. She still reigns over the barnyard and each summer she surprises us with her own little ducklings. (Cruz will be the dad of the future ducklings.)