Baby bird season is starting to wrap up for the summer, well, at least the ones in my incubator. The Turkeys are rarely laying, so I am selling their eggs now, instead of hatching. I am stiull hatching ducklings on occasion, if my egg stock in the fridge gets too high, I start to hatch instead. Here are some of the baby escapades...
We had a turkey mama hatch some of her own poults. This happened last year, with a hen who hid in our raspberry canes and hatched 9 little turkeys. She quickly abandoned them, so they went into the brooder. We saw a mama this year roosting on a nest, in a safe-ish place in out front yard, so we let her be. We put down water and food for her.
SHe had 9 eggs, and 7 of them hatched. WE we didn't realize was that her nest was on a pile of chicken wire where grass had grown through, so we didn't see it. When her little ones hatched, several got trapped in the chicken wire, and she abandoned them and they perished. Very sad. She had 3 that survived and didn't get trapped. I watched her that first day to make sure she was being a good mama, and she seemed to be. Until the next morning, when I found 2 of her babies wandering far from her, and she seemed none too interested in looking for them. They are now in the brooder. Since then, her third is also lost, and I kick myself for not putting it in the brooder as well.
Such is reality. I lose a few mamas every year because they attempt to sit over in the neighbor's field, where they and their eggs become coyote food. We're not apt to run a turkey program here by letting the mamas do the work, they aren't very good at it, so it seems. Besides, the entire time she is sitting, she isn't laying, and after the poults hatch, she isn't laying either, so I lose a lot of hatching opportunities there. I'll stick with the incubator and brooder from now on.
Now, if I had ducks that wanted to sit on their eggs AND be good mamas, we'd be onto something. But, since that isn't the case, I use the incubator on them, too. We have 5 grown ducklings, that all look a lot like these two from above. It's clear that my mallard has good hatching eggs! ALl 5 are also female, which seems statistically suspect.
I also have 8 more ducklings in the house, this picture was taken before the last 4 were hatched, and there are more in the incubator. Gosh, I love ducklings! I see some more mallard genes in two here, and possibly Welsh Harlequin or Peking in the big yellow one in the back. Surprised to have a beautiful grey-ish looking one, but I sense he might turn brown. It's fun to see what my motley ducks will turn into!
Here's a short video of my mama turkey being a good mama. If only for one day, it was sweet to see them together!