Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Another Birth Story

As Day 23 slipped in to Day 24 I began to worry. The egg was still cheeping but Vera now had a lively, demanding chick (named temporarily as Hoppy) that needed to eat and drink. So she had to leave the eggs to lead the bouncy (and quite frankly, mental) Hoppy to the food and water. All the time she was away, the eggs were cooling.

I watched proceedings nervously. Twice I found Vera settled down near the feeder keeping Hoppy warm, and ignoring the cheeping egg. I put her back in the nest each time, and kept my fingers crossed. She was definitely losing the will to sit, and I couldn't blame her. Hoppy was now ranging out from under Vera's protective wing, and causing mischief. Now that Vera had shown him how to eat, he decided to practice pecking at everything. His initial target was his mother's feet. Vera would squeal as each peck landed, and shuffle backwards. This became great fun for the little chick, and eventually Vera's patience ran out. She scooped him under her wing with her beak, and muttered grumpily. However, Hoppy was not sleepy. He wriggled back around to Vera's front, bashing the other eggs about as he did so, and arrived in front of her triumphant. He then tried to peck her in the eye. Vera was too quick for him and got her eye closed before he could make contact. So he weaved his head around to the other side and had a go at her other eye. This continued for a while, with the chick pestering her eyes alternately, and Vera doing semaphore with her eyelids. I admired her patience and restraint. Eventually, the little hooligan got sleepy and flopped forward on to the bedding, cheeping exhaustedly. Vera shuffled forwards and covered him with her ample bosom. She probably got a whole five minutes of peace.

Every so often the cheeping egg would really go for it, and Hoppy would cheep back. They were soon dueting an almighty racket, and Vera's soothing crooning did little to quieten them. I kept watching for signs of pipping, but as the afternoon wore on I began to lose heart. As Vera took Hoppy for his dinner, I picked the egg up and listened. The chick inside was scratching and tapping but didn't seem to be getting anywhere. The temptation to help it was enormous, but I know that if a chick isn't strong enough to pip, it isn't strong enough to live. So I put the egg back, and resumed my anxious vigil.

Once night fell, Vera was firmly ensconced on the eggs. Even Hoppy fell silent for a bit. Deciding what would be would be, I distracted myself for a couple of hours. When I couldn't keep away any more, I went out with my torch for a peep. I found Vera undulating. There was obviously great activity going on beneath her wings. Spotting the end of an egg peeking out from under her, I lifted her wing to get a closer look. And that's when I realised that the visible egg was just shell. Investigating a little further, I discovered a newly hatched, panting serama chick. Well, it's bum anyway. Hoppy was sat on it's head.

This morning, I went out to check on my little serama family. The new chick was mostly dry but noticably weaker than Hoppy. This might just be because it's two days behind it's nest mate, so hopefully it will catch up. However, Vera is no longer sitting in the nest. She has decamped to the food area, and this worries me a little. The new chick really needs her to stay sat so it can keep warm, but she's running about after it's bigger, louder nest mate. I found the new chick on it's back earlier in the chick crumb, cheeping pitifully. I rescued it and Vera watched me carefully while stuffing her face. I can't blame her, she has been sat for nearly four weeks and has lost weight. She needs to feed herself up. Hoppy is now old enough to follow her around also scoffing, but the new chick was getting left behind. Worried it would get cold, I did the only thing I could think of. Please don't judge me, reader. I stuck the chick down my top. Vera finished her meal keeping her beady eye on my cheeping cleavage, and then after a minute or two loudly demanded her baby back. I returned it to her, and she sat tucking one chick under each wing. I will keep a close eye on her.

Sadly, I do think that one of the other eggs had signs of life first thing this morning. I think I heard some tapping. But Vera has decided enough is enough, and she now has her wings quite literally full. When I last went out, the eggs in the nest were cold and there was no sign of life. I suspect that the three eggs contain dead chicks, as serama are known for dying in the shell. I can't bring myself to open them, but nor can I throw them away. Soft hearted as I am, I think I will bury them. I started this experiment with twelve eggs, and it has ended with two live hatches. Considering everything that was against me, I am quite pleased with that.

I removed Hoppy's shoe this morning. His two outer toes are now in the correct position, but his middle toe is bent to the left like a banana. It doesn't seem to be troubling him judging by how fast he can scuttle, so I'm not overly worried at this stage. The other chick's feet look normal.

Now I just have to wait and see what flavour they are.

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