Messages Archive

terminology, flying, and eggs
Response To:
Re: terminology ()

John K Jordan
>>> and what to call the lad or lassie behind the incubator and brooder?

I've been called a peabrain before but that was unrelated to the birds.

The guy who took care of the peachicks while I was out of town called them "chick peas." For brooders I use 110-gal rubber livestock watering tubs with 2' high sides. As for flying, before he got a chicken wire cover on the tub he found one sitting on a 5-gal bucket halfway across his garage! They were 4 or 5 days old at that point.

I can't believe how fast the wing feathers grow. The chicks are hatched with the feather shafts/quills about 25mm but only what looks like a tiny hair on the end. Just for fun I've been tracking the growth on a couple. Within two hours the soft feathers on the ends of the quill are around 3mm long. A few hours later I measured 5mm, then 11, then 19mm at seven hours, 24mm the next day. The quills are longer too. On chicks a couple of weeks old these wing feathers are about three inches long and the upper, layered feathers are in. The feather growth would make an interesting time-lapse video!

I suspect that since they nest on the ground in the wild the birds that can't fly up to a branch in a few days end up as a small snack in the food chain.

Something interesting about the vibrant peacock colors. Looking at the feathers under the microscope I found the strands look like stacks of tiny donuts, all are the same dull red color with transmitted light. I suspect the brilliant colors are due to thin coatings of cells, sort of like the colored reflections you see on multicoated camera lenses or the colors from a drop of oil spreading on the surface of water. Amazing.

Another perhaps interesting observation I made concerning eggs a few years ago, discovered when walking through the woods with a 365nm UV light looking for things that fluoresce. I spotted a brilliant red in the weeds and found it was a nest of guinea eggs. Some were brighter than others. More observation showed that the freshest eggs were the brightest and the color faded with time. Eggs of all species I examined fluoresced but the brown eggs were more vivid. I use this to guess at the age of eggs when I discover a nest. Internet searches about this fluorescence found nothing at the time but now I see an article, but nothing about aging.

More peacocks are hatching now, another one late yesterday and one during the night - eight so far out of 10 eggs. I've got video now of one hatching to add to the video of the chickens and guinea hatching. Unfortunately I don't know of a way to post them here unless I upload to youtube or somewhere.

A friend brought three more eggs yesterday so the saga continues. A nice present considering I've seen peacock eggs from $25 to $37 each this year. Even baby peacocks are more expensive this year - one dealer prices day-old chicks at $500 for eight.


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