on the needles

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Chicks - 8 days old

I had to re-band the two smaller chicks today because the bands had fallen off. It's amazing how much difference there is between the chicks size wise. I'm sure it is related to when the egg was laid, how long it was sat on and when it hatched. The biggest chick "cooked" the longest but hatched first and thus got started eating about six hours before it's siblings did.

Here they are today. Hatchling #1 is at the top of the nest (you can see the band on it's leg), #2 is laying on top of the tiniest one with the darkest head which is chick #3. I'm also interested in seeing how/if the color differences I am seeing in the chicks skin will equate to their future feather colors. If so, I'm guessing #1 will be an orange faced yellow back, #2 will be normal green with possibly a red face and #3 normal green with a black face. Also, #3 may be a female because it's beak is darker in color. This is all a total guess. But I have noticed in other animals that skin color and fur color correlate - if you shave your cat you can see that this is true. A white cat with grey spots will have pink skin with grey spots. And as an aside, did you know that there is no such thing as a black cat? Black cats are just tabby cats in hiding. (This means you Chaos!) :) That's why, if the lighting is just right, you can see faint stripes on black cats. Genetics and inheritance of genetic traits is fascinating to me. Another reason why I love the Gouldians - there are so many possibilities!

Here is chick #1.

This is a great shot of the glow in the dark nodules. Plus - look! - it's eyes have opened. And his feathers are starting to appear - see them on the wings?

Some of you remarked at how ugly/scary/creepy baby birds are. I agree - they are downright alien looking. When they are very young you can see through the skin and see some of the internal organs. Ewww! But I love them anyway. Isn't it amazing that something so beautiful, so colorful, so light and quick can start out life so clumsy, helpless, and frankly a bit repulsive. It's a reminder to me of how perfectly balanced nature is. I look at the birds and I think of the ages and ages of time spent refining, adapting, mixing up genes and sorting them out again - just to arrive at this little creature. I feel like I've literally got a piece of eternity sitting in my hand. It's a connection to the wonder of the "bigger picture" - and for me, that's a peaceful feeling. Besides - look at that face - that little thing has character already! You've got to love that face. :)

I actually will have some knitting to show off soon. I am on the second sock of both pairs. And I've been on a Pre-Raphaelite reading jag for my Summer Reading Challenge - so I will have a post about that soon. But in the meantime you'll just have to forgive my sidetracking into baby birdness. Despite the fact that it sounds like I'm an old pro at this - these are actually my first hatchlings - well I didn't do any of the actual hatching but you know what I mean - and I'm excited about them. :)

Oh - and there was a question about the parent birds rejecting the babies if they were handled by humans. I'm sure that this is absolutely true of wild birds but since the finches are already accustomed to my presence and because my scent is all over their entire environment, they don't react the way a wild bird would. I still take great care to wash my hands - both for my sake and theirs - and I wouldn't mess with the nest in the first few days because new parents of any species are always a bit jumpy - but other than that it is okay. The main problem is to do whatever you need to do quickly because you don't want the chicks to get chilled. Until they have their own feathers they have to rely on their parents sitting on them to provide warmth.

See you next time! :)


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