Well, we're into week 3 of incubation. On day 11 I discovered egg 4/8 (recall they're ID-ed by the date they were collected) no longer had visible blood vessels nor a noticeable dark spot indicative of a developing embryo. Based on comments and info I researched online, I waited several days (having been out of town the last couple days) to candle it again only to discover no change. So, to make sure what killed the developing embryo wasn't a risk to my other eggs, Ben and I cracked open the egg to examine the contents. The only thing we saw was plain ol' egg yoke with barely discernible remnants of blood vessels that I had previously seen. No bad odor or blood rings...apparently just an early death. I am well aware that 100% hatches are rare in artificial incubation and anticipated losing one or two (besides, my duck run wasn't set up to house six ducks!). So now I am down to five eggs and they all seem to be doing swimmingly! Ha ha! Get it? Ah, duck humor. It's hard to believe that in 10-11 days I should be seeing the little ones hatch! I'm nervous but very eager to see them. I'll be sure to post lots of pics of their birth!
Check out what I saw 5 of my 6 eggs do yesterday when I candled them... (The video is not of my egg, but DEFINITELY illustrates what I saw) Totally freaked me out at first because I had not read anything about it happening, not at least so early in development!
Friday (day 7) marked the end of week one of incubation. Eggs can be candled (use of a bright light to see the contents of an egg) around day 7 to determine fertility and the rate at which they are dehydrating. I am happy to announce that all six of my duck eggs are fertile and progressing nicely! Below is one of my eggs being candled on a flashlight and toilet paper tube, my DIY egg candler.
The green arrow is identifying the air cell which is used to determine whether the egg is dehydrating correctly. You can see where I drew a dotted outline of the air cell (below) for comparison at the next candling. The dates on the eggs reflect when the breeder collected the eggs. The blue arrow identifies the "eye" of the embryo and what will eventually be a duckling! Finally, the pink arrows are pointing out developing blood vessels, nourishing the embryo. Week two will constitute an increase in incubator temperature to 102 degrees and a seven minute cooling period & light spraying of water each day.
After several years of work and frustration (the whole saga is outlined in the posts below), I am happy to announce I acquired Ancona hatching eggs yesterday! They are presently in my incubator staying at a toasty 101.5ish degrees. If all goes well, I'll have 6 darling ducklings around May 8th! While the incubation period is pretty uneventful, keep checking back as the hatch date nears for updates.