Cheep, cheep, cheep!
Written by Calliope Pappadakis   
Wednesday, 29 June 2011 06:41

After deliveries yesterday, we arrived home to the sound of cheeping chicks! What a sweet sound! I immediately cheeped back. We noticed a small crack in one of the eggs - pipping has commenced! By bed time, 3 eggs had cracks and we could hear the chicks cheeping and chipping the whole evening. What a thing to experience. When I awoke this morning, 4 eggs had cracks and the first chick egg tooth appeared and I could see the little bugger feverishly working his way through the eggs.

Here's a pic from last night - the first crack we noticed. At the bottom of the pic you can see that one of the eggs is turned perpendicular to the rest of them - this egg rocks back and forth when we cheep in its general direction!

 

First crack

Here's a pic of the first sighting of a chick - you can make out its "tooth". Hello little one!

First tooth!

Here's some information that describes how chicks go about getting out of their shells - fascinating little creatures!

HOW THE CHICK EMERGES FROM THE SHELL from The University of Illinois

The head of the chick develops at the large end of the egg. Between the 15th and 16th days, the chick orients itself so that its head is near the air cell at the large end of the egg. Not long before the chick is ready to attempt to make its way out of the shell its neck acquires a double bend so that its beak is under its right wing and pointed toward the air cell. About the 19th day the chick thrusts its head forward. Its beak quickly breaks through the inner shell membrane, and the chick's lungs begin to function. Complete breathing by the lungs usually does not occur until the 20th day of incubation. [This is when we heard our first cheeps!]

Using its egg tooth (a tiny, sharp, horny projection on the end of its beak), the chick pecks at the shell thousands of times. Finally, the young bird pips its way through the shell and begins to breathe air directly from the outside. After the chick has made a hole in the shell, it stops pipping for three to eight hours and rests. During this time, it is acclimating its lungs to the outside atmosphere. After the resting stage is completed, the second stage of pipping begins.

The chick begins to turn slowly inside the egg. As it turns, usually counter-clockwise, the cutting edge of the chick tooth continues to chip away. In two to five hours, the chick has made about three quarters of a turn inside the egg. As the chick progresses in its movement around the shell, it begins pushing on the egg cap (large end). Squirming and struggling, the chick works feverishly for about 40 minutes pushing at the cap. Finally with a vigorous shove, the chick breaks free from the shell, still wet and panting.

When the chick is freed completely from the shell, it lies still. Its energy has been virtually exhausted, and it is extremely tired. After a rest of some few minutes, the chick begins to rise to its feet and gain coordination of its muscles. Within a few days the egg tooth, its usefulness over, will disappear.