Life and death in one room

As everyone knows I have a few pet quails. Now domestic quail are not known for their maternal instincts. In fact in the years I’ve had my quails I’ve never once seen one of my lady quails sitting on her eggs. However, around ten days ago I suddenly noticed one of my quails sitting on a pile of eggs. Very strange but I was happy as my brood is getting old and I’d always like to have quails as they are such delightful little creatures. Anyway, after around ten days she stopped sitting on them. Mally insisted we put them in a small incubator we had. I said I wasn’t sure and we should just let nature take it’s course.

But Mally set up the incubator and put them in. I thought nothing more of it until yesterday when I went into the back bedroom and heard the temperature alarm going off on the incubator. In the same room in their hospital box are the hens Ruby and Big Bird recuperating. I didn’t want them disturbing and I thought there was no way the eggs were going to hatch as they’d been left for two days by my quail. I went to switch the incubator off and then suddenly noticed one of the eggs moving! Needless to say I didn’t switch the incubator off. This morning I rushed into the bedroom to see if the eggs had hatched.

I was met by a tiny little chick who had just hatched. He was still half in his shell. What a magical sight! I rushed to tell Mally and I started jumping up and down. I know….I get easily excited. I never expected these babies to hatch. He was wet and struggling to find his feet. As I watched the little one began standing up and moving. He still had a large chunk of egg shell stuck to his rear. He was dragging it around as he walked. It looked like it was connected to him. After some feverish googling, I found that it was the umbilical cord still attached and to leave it be as it would dry out.

I then spent the next six hours sat in a chair pushed up against the incubator tentatively watching this little miracle’s every move. It looked like he would be the only one but about two hours ago I saw a little beak pip through another of the eggs. There are five eggs in total.

Just hatched

He started off wet and clumsy but over the next few hours he began to dry out and fluff up.

Beginning to fluff up

Then after a couple of hours he found his voice and began to cheep.

Cheep cheep

The reason I have called this blog life and death is that today has been bittersweet. I have witnessed new life which is very sweet. But the bitter end is my hens who are also in the room in their hospital box. Big bird has rallied with her meds but poor Ruby is looking very poorly and appears to be slipping away. She can’t keep her eyes open. I just don’t think she is strong enough. But at least Big Bird who is growing stronger is there to comfort her. I looked in about an hour ago and Ruby was snuggled into Big Bird. She was peacefully asleep.

I have now moved tiny chick to my bedroom inside a brooding cage with heater. I hope he gets company soon and the other chicks hatch. He’s taking the whole living thing in his stride. I do believe he now thinks I’m his mother and he keeps coming out from under his brooder and shouting. Once he sees me he settles then goes back to sleep.

In his brooding cage complete with heat brooder.

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