Spring 2017: Mystery solved

The lovey dovey, or should I say, lucky ducky couple.

I counted the eggs in Quakie’s nest again this morning – had to move fast as she and Frankie were away on a short foraging trip (including a stop by the kitchen for Quakie’s favourite frozen treats – green peas) and would be back quickly.

I brought a large basket to hold the straw and eggs, and carefully removed the eggs as I had did two days previously. To my surprise, there were 15 eggs this time! I thought I might have miscounted, but true enough, there were 13 eggs with pencilled crosses on them, and 2 eggs without.

Two new eggs! This means Quakie is still building up her clutch, and perhaps she hadn’t actually stopped laying at all. The mystery of why Quakie is not sitting on her eggs is solved – at least for now.  Unfortunately now there is no way to know when she actually did start laying, and on which days, since the math doesn’t add up.

What we do know for sure is that ducks lay 1 egg a day, and usually at the same time early in the morning. They can’t lay more than 1 egg a day, since the egg yolk, albumen etc. take about 4 hours in total to form and the shell takes 20 hours. After that one egg is laid, the next one starts forming inside the duck’s body. Isn’t it amazing that these cycles correspond so exactly to the length of a day? Here is an excellent video showing the formation of an egg in a chicken (which I suspect is quite similar to the process in ducks)

Quakie has gotten so fat in the last few days that she walks like a pregnant woman – waddling with difficulty! Her belly is also quite visibly distended, especially in the evenings. It’s like she is going through a whole pregnancy cycle every day and giving birth every morning. What an amazing reproductive system ducks have compared to us. No human (at least, no one I’ve heard of) could possibly give birth to a whole brood of young, who in total weigh more than half their mom’s own weight!

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