I never finished the story begun in early June, in which broody Iris got her wish to sit upon a clutch of eggs.
That they were guinea eggs was no matter. She settled herself into her cardboard nestbox inside Tucker’s old puppy crate and hardly moved for almost a month. I’d lift her off the nest to get her to eat a few seeds. She’d take an occasional drink. Her comb and wattles grew pale from dehydration and lack of food. She sat tight.
And then on June 23 I went into the garage and saw this:
A wee little guinea keet, still wet from the egg! And there were more!
And one was still hatching. I set up vigil in the garage along with Tucker and my mom and we waited for hours, watching this keet being born.
Neither my mom nor I had ever watched a bird hatch, and it was one of the neatest things I’ve ever seen. Iris and even the sibling keets pecked at the shell, helping to free the baby. And did you know that birds have umbilical cords? They do—little tiny dark threads that look like a piece of hair.
It soon became clear that the keets were too small to be contained in the dog crate. I placed an emergency call to Dad, and he delivered a couple of wonderful ready-made coops from Tractor Supply. Thanks, Dad! I am very grateful that this event happened on a Saturday when I was home. Otherwise I would have missed the show but more importantly the baby keets would have fled the dog crate and no doubt met an unfortunate end in the garage.
Here you can see the egg tooth on the upper beak of this keet. The egg tooth helps a baby bird break out of the shell, and it disappears soon after birth.
When it seemed as though all hatching was complete, I moved the family into their new coop, under watchful supervision.
And Mama Iris got to work teaching her babies how to eat and drink.
Ten out of the thirteen eggs I’d placed under Iris hatched. The last keet to hatch had something wrong with it, and it was never able to properly stand. After a day of watching it suffer and slowly starve, I euthanized it. So I had nine baby keets—not bad for rather unscientifically collecting eggs and storing them in my guest room closet for a week! Next, the keets grow up!