Last week Lady Guinea and Sassafras were due to hatch their eggs. I wrote about their dueling nests here.
And an eventful week it was. I'll start with the good news first. Lady Guinea, out of the 23 eggs in her clutch, hatched 18 rambunctious, baby guinea keets. On Tuesday we knew the baby birds were due, so we checked up on LG and Sassy in the morning. Both were dutifully sitting on their nest, business as usual. LG's nest, however, had some peeping coming out of it. We knew some eggs had hatched.
Stealing babies from a guinea is no small feat. Guineas are aggressive around their babies, just ask our mail-lady. Whenever the guineas have babies I have to be very careful where I'm walking in the yard. Just this morning I thought I was fine on the other side of our garden planter. Nope. Within a couple seconds I had Lady Guinea perched on my arm pecking at my face. She's lucky I hadn't had my coffee yet and was barely coherent enough to fling her back on her babies.
To extract the little peepers from under her feathered shroud Sweetbreads donned her thickest boots and timidly stuck her toe near LG's nest. Not wanting to leave her eggs, LG pecked and squawked, alerting the male guineas to the infiltration. While the charade took place I came from behind and grabbed LG. Sweetbreads deftly snuck 7 keets into a box, I dropped LG, and off we went. Guinea Cent and his pals, in the meantime, had come to LG's rescue and were on the verge of attacking us. Luckily, we escaped their talons. The remaining 16 eggs were still under her. She hatched 11 more by Wednesday.
With the weather getting cold we decided to raise some of her keets for her and let her have some to herself. We took 9 and left 9 with her. It turns out the easiest way to steal babies from a mother guinea is while she's still on the nest trying to hatch out the rest of her eggs. Stealing the other two keets in broad daylight was something we should've worn the bee-suit for.
Sassy, on the other hand, hatched none. Elvis is to blame. He was just a wee lad when we got him and it turns out he still isn't man enough to be a father.
It may seem uneventful when no babies hatch, but not in Sassy's case. As I lifted her off the nest to see if any chicks were underneath she held tight onto an egg. I set her down and the egg exploded. Not just burst. Exploded. Like an M-80. Unfortunately, it sprayed rotten egg everywhere and stunk the barn to high-heaven. Even more gross was when Sassy went over and ate the remains. Then Ginger, our house dog, came in and cleaned up whatever Sassy missed.
As Elvis gets older I have confidence that he'll be a proud dad. For now we'll admire his fluffiness and applaud his crowing ability. Gotta keep his spirit up.