Peepers on the way?

By Katherine Pioli

Don’t hold your breath, but we might have some goslings soon. No. Really. Please don’t let us get you excited. We have no idea what we are doing here. There might not be goslings, but we are pretty sure that there are. Two.

So a hen, we have now named her Dorothy, went broody a few weeks ago. That means she started sitting on a nest and didn’t want to get off. She wanted to hatch something. We separated her from the other hens and put some duck eggs under her. A week later we candled them and saw no embryo development. We cracked one open to be sure and, nope, just a plain ol’ egg yolk.

We had some goose eggs that we were sure were fertile – wink, wink, the backyard is still full of the sounds of spring. So we popped two goose eggs under her and she kept on brooding.

For a while we talked about candling the eggs, putting a light up to the pointed side of the egg to illuminate the insides (it only works with the light at the tip of the egg, not on the side, we learned that a little late). But we never got around to it until this weekend. What we saw disappointed us. Only a little bubble on the tip of the egg showed light through. The rest was black like the whole egg had rotted inside.

We put the eggs back under Dorothy anyway and I got online to search what a goose egg should look like after three weeks of incubation. I found an incubation and hatching guide on The picture I came up with looked exactly like what we saw. Apparently, as the embryo develops the inner membrane grows to cover 66% of the inner surface of the shell. By half way through the process the membrane covers the entire shell pressing major blood vessels to it through which the growing bird can breathe and receive fluid and protein. Good thing we didn’t crack the eggs, I thought. Tragic.

Hatching is very straining on little bird bodies and hearts. A bird can develop all the way to the point of hatching and never make it out of the shell alive. I hope that we have strong babies. Keep alert for a fun last minute blog in the next five days with news and photos of the new babies.

This article was originally published on May 13, 2013.