My clever Old English Game Bantam has, so far, hatched one quail chick for us. We are in New Zealand and we are lucky to have only a few poultry diseases to deal with here. There is strictly no imports of any live birds of any kind. We have too many critically endangered native birds to risk introducing anything. So I don't have to worry about Coryza which is the major poultry disease passed to quail from chickens.
Elsa is being so quiet and gentle. Baby hatched on (New Zealand's) Labour Day, Monday 24th October. It has been out and about more today but it still needs lots of cuddles. Our son has named it Flower (let's hope it's a girl). There is at least one egg that has a live baby in it (I float tested it) and I'm hoping the fact that this baby quail isn't as active as a chicken chick that Elsa will keep sitting until it hatches so Flower has a sibling. Elsa has been showing the baby how to eat and how to drink from the spoon I offer water on. It likes to snuggle and climb right up to what would be a chicken's armpit. Must be the warmest spot. It tend to go under Elsa from her rear end which she is a little puzzled about (she hatched chicken chicks for us last autumn) but she talks so super quietly to this baby. It was peeping sadly this morning until she began purring and whisper-clucking to reassure it then it started it's 'cricket' chirruping, talking back to her.
They are currently indoors and Elsa is being so patient with my nervous, interferring midwifery skills! I shall update as things progress - I just had to share the cuteness. I have no idea what colour it will turn out to be but they grow so fast that we'll know pretty soon!
A couple of new photos -
Flower coming to tell me she's thirsty
I've been offering Elsa a drink from a spoon as she's still determined something else will hatch and hasnt moved off her nest, so Flower drinks from this too. Flower knows I supply this and comes up to me to peep at me and tell me to stop taking photos and give her a drink!
Little Flower now has a sibling!!! Only a week after she hatched but good things take time. It's my fault as I'd had three broody bantams in the main coop so I'd stuck some eggs under one one day, a couple of days later put some under another and then a couple of days after that collected enough to stick under the third. I ended up moving Elsa inside due to three broodies causing quite a lot of nestbox congestion in the coop! So I stuck any eggs that seemed viable under her (some just floated because they were going bad I later discovered).
The Newbie probably would've been here sooner but on Saturday morning I found the egg behind Elsa where she'd pooped on it. It was cool, but not cold, so I cleaned it up, checked it for pips, then float tested it, expecting the worst. It was still wriggling so back under Elsa it went. Yesterday I checked it (much to Elsa's disgruntlement - she is quite protective) and it was cheeping at me, but still hadn't pipped. I checked it again in the afternoon and it was tapping away but was yet to pip. This morning it had hatched and I managed to get a half decent photo. It wasn't even completely dry! Looks like a little white baby.
Elsa has been an absolute saint as she has not moved off her nest in a week!!! I have fed, watered and cleaned up after her as best I could. Hopefully she will get up to stretch her legs soon and I can move them into slightly larger, cleaner accomodations.
Flower is as gorgeous as ever and is very friendly. I'm really hoping she is a girl - surely she's too pretty to be a boy! I taught her where the waterer was yesterday and she can drink out of it but she still likes to drink off the spoon with her Mum. She chatters away constantly and seems to like us talking to her. She's started doing the popcorn happy dance that quail do. She also chases her feet when she's eating which is pretty hilarious!
Here is Flower at 2 weeks old - they grow so fast! She looks like she's turning into a rosetta so I won't know if she is a she until she lays an egg or crows. She doesn't mind being patted (on her terms) but doesn't like being picked up. She's very attached to her Mummy. I actually got sick of Elsa scratching bedding into the food and water constantly, plus almost trampling poor little Spook, and separated the babies with the intention of returning Elsa to the coop that night. Only problem was it was Guy Fawkes here so there was no way I could carry her out safely with all the fireworks going off around us. Plus Flower moaned and peeped so piteously that I caved and gave Elsa back her babies. And I changed the bedding to just straw which is less messy than the woodchips I had under the straw previously.
And here is the gorgeous Spook at a week old. He/she is so laid back and LOVES to be cuddled and patted. This is me holding the sleeping beauty - he/she will literally lie stretched out horizontally in your hand and sleep. As Spook is destined to be white, again we will have to wait for a crow or an egg to tell us whether it's a boy or a girl.
Here's our 5 year old son holding Spook (who soon drifted off to sleep).
A couple of 'family' photos too. Elsa looks so proud and content.
A few days ago I discovered that our Spook has blue eyes rather than the normal brown. His/her pupils often look red so I think I'll be keeping him/her out of strong sunlight. He/she continues to be very cuddly, enjoying a snooze in our hands and taking the kid's handling in his/her stride which includes being picked up and rocked like a baby or zoomed through the air to the couch for a cuddle (because our son just cannot slow down despite constant reminders to be careful)!
Here is Spook at 2 weeks old - he/she is starting to get a patch of gold on his/her back.
And the beautiful Flower is now 3 weeks old and a real character, bouncing about, testing out his/her wings (he/she managed to disappear down behind the cage the other day and needed rescuing) and looking after Spook like a good big sibling. They don't seem to need Elsa at this stage other than for warmth at night but she still thinks she's necessary so I'll leave her be for now.
I have more eggs under another broody OEGB so fingers crossed I'll be able to hatch a few more. I discovered the other day that our youngest adult quail, that we hatched ourselves, are now 2 years old so that's why fertility is so bad (a year old is considered geriatric for japanese quail). Time does fly!