In the afternoon peeping was heard from the incubator oven that had the nine mallard duck eggs in it. When I opened the door, there was a wet, bedraggled duckling struggling about the on the oven grate. I put the duckling along with the other eggs into a small plastic storage container and placed it back into the oven for awhile. The sound of peeping could be heard from some of the other eggs as other ducklings were pipping, the term used for birds to break out of their shells.
A second one broke out at 2 ½ hours later and three over the next few hours later.
An area was set up in the guest bedroom with a heat lamp for the newly hatched ducklings. It was constructed from 6ft 1×6 boards.
As eggs appeared to be close to hatching they were moved under the heat lamp. Here is a time lapse of one of these later ones breaking out. I now have two eggs under a red infrared heat lamp. The other ducklings get in the act towards the end. The camera was set up to take a few frames every 30 seconds.
Another time lapse that becomes a continuous video of another pipping.
Where did they come from?
There is a courtyard right outside the back of my classroom that is often home to some nesting ducks. While the space is completely enclosed by the school giving some protection, predators can fly in. There had been a mother duck with 14 hatchlings. Soon a large hawk discovered them and started picking off the ducklings. Over a weekend they all disappeared including the mama duck.
There was another nesting duck with eggs. On May 27 the hawk killed this mom. There were nine eggs in the nest. There happens to be a small drying oven in my lab. It always is about 50 °C (122 °F) with non-working controls. This is much too hot. Supposedly the ideal temperature is about 99 °F. I played around with propping the door open and monitoring with a digital thermometer. This took much trial and a lot error with wide temperature swings. I put in a large sponge soaked in water to maintain high humidity. I rotated the eggs several times during the day.
A couple of days later, the oven and the eggs went home with me on the weekend. I continued adjusting the door. Sometimes the temperature would work its way up to 102 °F and down to 92 °F. One of the eggs had turned much darker than the others. I figured that was a goner. A week and a half later, I stopped turning the eggs. This is supposed to happen about a week before hatching although I did not know their start date.
I started figuring that eggs were not going to hatch, started losing interest. I still keep up the wet sponge. Then today they…