Back at the beginning of February I mentioned how I love my ducks and that I wanted to get some call ducklings. I thought I had found a somewhat local source but it hasn't materialized. I considered mail ordering some as I found a source to order call ducklings from but then I rethought that idea. The little birds are so fragile I didn't want to go through the possible heartache of shipping troubles, not many places ship call ducklings and there is a reason for that -they are tiny fragile ducklings.
I thought about ordering hatching eggs but I am so super busy in March & April that I really didn't think I could devote the time to these special eggs. Hatching call eggs is known to be tricky. Plus I don't trust my homemade incubator that much -it seems to work well but my measuring devices such as the thermometer and the hydrometer are all over the place. Last year at one time I think I had four thermometers in the incubator trying to determine the accurate temperature!
So I was in a bit of a conundrum, no local calls and hatching eggs was out. Then just like the Grinch who stole Christmas, I had an idea. A very good idea . Why not hire someone to hatch the eggs? I had seen ads on Craigslist offering incubating services. I looked again. Hmmmph, no one local. I placed an ad on craigslist but had no response. I contacted my friend Jerry over at the Modern Day Redneck and though he would have liked to help out, his incubators were full and scheduled to remain that way through April. Struck out again. I went back to the craigslist ads.
There was this fellow 65 miles away with lots of experience. I thought about it, and decided, no. Driving there with the eggs to drop them off, driving home and then doing the whole trip again after hatching was just too much. With the price of gas, and my shortage of time, it just wasn't rational. Then I had another idea. And yes another VERY good idea (wow that's two in one week!). Why not ship eggs directly to the hatcher? It made no sense to have them shipped to me, just for me to run them down there. With that, I set the wheels in motion. I discussed this idea with the hatcher, Gary of Maransoftexas.com, he was all for it, so I ordered the eggs.
The eggs had a smooth trip from Missouri and arrived at Gary's on March 21st, all 12 arrived intact. Gary set them the next day. Now came what I find as one of the hardest parts, waiting! At about 10 days, Gary let me know that all 12 eggs were developing. Woohoo. Week 3 going into lockdown, we had 10 that still looked good. I was ecstatic. With any shipped eggs this was a great success rate, but with call ducks it was super! Then came lockdown and hatch day.
Hatching is another of the call ducks weak points. Because of their small stature and small bills they often have troubles getting the egg pipped and then hatching out. On day 26 hatch day, we had 3 pips. One was coming out backwards, it had pipped the small end of the egg. Gary had to help that one or it would have succumbed. Meanwhile another hatched out quickly and then with help the 3rd pipper came into this world. And then nothing. The hatch stopped. Day 27 came and Gary candled and didn't see any movement within the eggs. He decided to carefully open the eggs, because if the ducks were alive, they needed help! Two had pierced the air sac but must have drowned as they were dead, and the rest had quit. We were disappointed but focused on what we did have, three live call ducklings!
The two that needed help hatching were very weak so Gary propped them up in an egg carton so they wouldn't flip over on their backs and hurt themselves struggling. He kept them that way for about a day when they decided to come around and started trying to get out of the egg carton. The other duckling was put with a newly hatched chick for company.
Yesterday, I brought the threesome home. I was shocked at just how tiny the little guys are. The two slow hatchers are teeny tiny. Their small size worries me but they seem to be eating, drinking, peeping, pooping and sleeping just like little ducklings should so I pray that they start growing now and catch up to their sibling who is also tiny but whom looks like a mammoth besides them.
They are set up in a plastic tote with heat lamp in my spare bedroom. I think I've checked them about 100 times in the 12 hours they've been home. They are so stinking cute.
Here are the photos I know you've all been waiting for:
Believe it or not this is the big one!
This is the teeny fella
The golden child!
I realized you couldn't really tell just how small these guys are so I stuck a coke can in with them for a group shot .