The Eggs That Will Never Hatch

 

Some people are overly sentimental about animals.  They won’t go hunting.  They hate the idea of hunting.  They cannot even know how their food is made; touching it is disgusting or repulsive to them.  They’ll eat meat as long as they don’t know where it comes from.

Then there are the people who take it a step further and become vegetarians.

Then, there are those who become militant in their supposed respect of animals and become vegans (how do you know? They’ll tell you!).

I do not resemble any of those people.  I’m not opposed to hunting, though I’ve never gone.  I sometimes feel that a bow is more humane, other times that a swift death is a bigger blessing.  I prepare food, I don’t love the texture of raw meat, but I’m not horrified.  I see the blood and sinews and fat when I’m trimming up a pork shoulder.  It does not give me pause.  I know how sausage is made and I still love the product.

I am not a pushover in most ways.  I can tolerate blood and guts.  Many have complimented me on my vast sense of justice, aesthetics, and kindness (even recently).  But my cold, dead heart softens for certain animals with zero chances who still try, try, try to accomplish their various goals.  I cannot watch nature documentaries where the animals struggle to build their home only to have the den flooded or destroyed by fire, looking upon their former glory while sitting in their ashes.

This brings me to my current predicament.

Lovebird | Love birds, Pet birds, Love birds pet

I have a lovebird.

I have a very prolific lovebird.

As the days get brighter and longer, the little hen senses the season.  She tears the newspaper at the bottom of her cage into shreds and places them into a round, creating an approximation of the nest she’d make if only I would provide better materials.  She settles down and then the time arrives.

She lays her eggs.

The male is completely unnecessary in this case, though she becomes much more amorous with my hand.  Eggs are laid in the compromised nest all the same.  Every other day, another egg appears.  Lovebirds like her lay anywhere between 5-8 eggs.  Last time, I did not know the protocol and kept getting rid of them each time one appeared.  Apparently, that only makes them agitated and more likely to replace the missing egg with another.  This time I decided to do research.  I waited.  I counted.  Every other day, I would ensure that she had food placed within reach; she dropped so much weight last time, I was afraid that she would die.  She had refused to move an inch from the eggs.  In nature (or with kinder owners, I suppose), the mate would be feeding her during this time.  Since she only had me and I’m an awful boyfriend, I put her bird pellets on a little paper disposable plate right next to her nest.  This disturbed her greatly, but adorned with birdie bread she was enticed to nibble and take a moment away from the eggs to eat and drink.

Normally, or in more pro-life circumstances, the eggs would begin to hatch by day 21.  Certainly, they would be hatched by day 28.  This is the time, approximately, that the educated people say the bird will finally give up on her eggs, determined they are duds, and will go back to life as usual.

Then it is acceptable to take the eggs out of the cage.

Dime is for size comparison purposes only.

Our bird, Princess Peach, did no such thing.  Day 21 came around and she dutifully sat.  She took breaks, longer and longer, but she always came back to rest on her eggs.  She eyed me jealously when I reached anywhere near them.  Not attacking, but certainly wary of my intentions toward her little potential chicks.  Day 25 came, all was much the same.

Day 28 came.

Nothing changed.

Day 30.

It was getting a bit unreasonable.  But there she sat.  Ever convinced that somehow these eggs would be the ones that hatched.  Last time was a fluke.  This time, this time, at least one would survive.  And so she sat still.  All day, all night.  Her feathers were dreary.  The nest was surrounded by droppings (she just hangs her backside out of it and goes).  But she was convinced.

I thought maybe I’d missed a day or two in my counting.  I didn’t date the calendar very well.

I waited another couple of days.

Finally, I took her out of the cage, cleaned the cage, removed the nest, washed everything out, and removed the eggs.

It was if nothing had ever happened.

When I put her back in the cage, she hopped down to the floor to see if her nest was there.  It was not.  She went back up, paced a bit, and then took a nap.

It was done.

And I felt awful.  I feel awful.

This poor creature, with all of the hope she has in her stupid little bird brain and body, guarded these little infertile eggs as her most precious objects.

And so I can’t get rid of them.


I’ve done therapy for many, many years, so I’m fairly decent at being able to analyze myself.  Rationalization is a major vice of mine.  I can only say that it must be the symbolism of the eggs and the way the bird clings to them for dear life that is so upsetting to me.

Her life is charmed, our little Princess.  She fears no predator.  Her home is climate controlled with a warmer in the cage, because her owners enjoy their air conditioning.  Her food is top-notch.  Her veterinarian is a nationally-known bird specialist who did landmark surgery on lovebirds and wrote the paper on how to perform microsurgery on domesticated birds.  She has more love than she can handle and often expresses that to us in her screams when she needs us to stop loving her quite so much.

All the same, there is one drive of hers that she cannot explain and cannot fulfill.  She will not see chicks hatch.  With a life expectancy of approximately 15-20 years in captivity, she has many, many more seasons of disappointment ahead of her.

Somehow she still clings desperately to this hope, this drive.  She wills it to happen, despite all signs and all time indicating that her eggs are not going to hatch this time.  She still tends to her little dead eggs.  She tenderly sits on them and rotates.  She still sacrifices for them.  For the chicks that will never, ever be.

It is deeply upsetting to see this cycle.  Hopes, nurturing, inevitable failure.

Inevitable.

And so the eggs sit on my counter.

I can’t throw them away like trash; they’re her most precious creations.  While they did not produce her most fervent result, they are so precious to her that I can’t bring myself to dispose of them.  Instead, I just look at them and feel sorry for her.

I think I’m getting old and sentimental.

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 27 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    This may or may not be helpful, but it’s all I’ve got…

    Carefully poke a small hole in one end of each egg; insert a pin, and scramble the yolk. Then pierce the opposite side of the egg, and blow the contents out, leaving the shell intact.

    Decorate each if you like, or just leave them in their natural color. Perhaps share them with family and friends as a keepsake? 

    • #1
  2. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Could you get a male lovebird for… companionship?

    The barn swallows that were desperately trying to make a nest above my front door, kept trying even though they couldn’t attach anything to the stucco.  When I put up an outdoor temperature/humidity sensor, they tried using that as a base even though it was too small and unsteady.  And I would have to remove it to replace the batteries, and clean it to allow for air flow…

    I knew they were persistent, so last year I put up a modest “shelf” above the sensor, for them to use.

     

     

    With a good foundation in place, they began to (I’m going to say happily) begin construction.

     

     

     

    Then after a while, there were eggs!

     

    But I think the Mommy Bird and Daddy Bird were themselves too young to take care of them properly, maybe they went ahead and put the nest and eggs above my front door, but were still too scared to stay there and tend them, with my occasional use of the door.

    After a few weeks, I removed the eggs.

     

    But then, late last month they started coming around again!  And this time, it worked.

     

     

     

     

    I am so happy for them, and happy to have been able to help.

    • #2
  3. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    You have done a wonderful thing for your bird and leaned and shared the knowledge of this behavior.  Thank you.

    Now I need to find a clip of Spock with his mind captured in Ponfarr.  The biologic imperitive seems appropriate, given your story.

    Here’s the best I could find in a short search.

    • #3
  4. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Clavius (View Comment):

    You have done a wonderful thing for your bird and leaned and shared the knowledge of this behavior. Thank you.

    Now I need to find a clip of Spock with his mind captured in Ponfarr. The biologic imperitive seems appropriate, given your story.

    Here’s the best I could find in a short search.

    You remember what would have happened to Spock if he didn’t do that?

    Yes, that’s right.

    • #4
  5. TheRightNurse Member
    TheRightNurse
    @TheRightNurse

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Could you get a male lovebird for… companionship?

    The barn swallows that were desperately trying to make a nest above my front door, kept trying even though they couldn’t attach anything to the stucco. When I put up an outdoor temperature/humidity sensor, they tried using that as a base even though it was too small and unsteady. And I would have to remove it to replace the batteries, and clean it to allow for air flow…

    I knew they were persistent, so last year I put up a modest “shelf” above the sensor, for them to use.

     

     

    With a good foundation in place, they began to (I’m going to say happily) begin construction.

     

     

     

    Then after a while, there were eggs!

     

    But I think the Mommy Bird and Daddy Bird were themselves too young to take care of them properly, maybe they went ahead and put the nest and eggs above my front door, but were still too scared to stay there and tend them, with my occasional use of the door.

    After a few weeks, I removed the eggs.

     

    But then, late last month they started coming around again! And this time, it worked.

     

     

     

     

    I am so happy for them, and happy to have been able to help.

    I might. 

    First: it is nearly impossible (without DNA testing or laying behaviors) to identify the sex of lovebirds.

    Second: even if I do,  you can’t just throw two together and hope they fall in love. 

    Third: if there are babies,  I’m gonna want to hand raise them and sell them from there.

    But it is definitely something I’m thinking about. 

    • #5
  6. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    TheRightNurse (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Could you get a male lovebird for… companionship?

    The barn swallows that were desperately trying to make a nest above my front door, kept trying even though they couldn’t attach anything to the stucco. When I put up an outdoor temperature/humidity sensor, they tried using that as a base even though it was too small and unsteady. And I would have to remove it to replace the batteries, and clean it to allow for air flow…

    I knew they were persistent, so last year I put up a modest “shelf” above the sensor, for them to use.

     

     

    With a good foundation in place, they began to (I’m going to say happily) begin construction.

     

     

     

    Then after a while, there were eggs!

     

    But I think the Mommy Bird and Daddy Bird were themselves too young to take care of them properly, maybe they went ahead and put the nest and eggs above my front door, but were still too scared to stay there and tend them, with my occasional use of the door.

    After a few weeks, I removed the eggs.

     

    But then, late last month they started coming around again! And this time, it worked.

     

     

     

     

    I am so happy for them, and happy to have been able to help.

    I might.

    First: it is nearly impossible (without DNA testing or laying behaviors) to identify the sex of lovebirds.

    Second: even if I do, you can’t just throw two together and hope they fall in love.

    Third: if there are babies, I’m gonna want to hand raise them and sell them from there.

    But it is definitely something I’m thinking about.

    Your vet might be able to hook Princess up with a suitor, ideally one with similar patents of nobility. 

    • #6
  7. Some Call Me ...Tim Coolidge
    Some Call Me ...Tim
    @SomeCallMeTim

    Very good post.  Thank you for sharing.

    It is amazing how, surrounded by varied and sometimes immense tragedies, the little ones affect us most.

    • #7
  8. HeavyWater Reagan
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    In 2010, I gave up eating meat, diary and eggs (all animal based foods) not for ethical reasons but because I became persuaded that giving up those foods would bring me health benefits.  

    At the time that I stopped eating animal based food, I didn’t have any significant health issues.  For example, I had not been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or hypertension.  I had once been told my cholesterol was too high.  Giving up animal based food did drop my serum (blood) cholesterol pretty significantly.  

    But having been on a plant based diet for 12 years and hanging out with many ethical vegans, I have become a bit more sympathetic to the argument that we should at least try to minimize harm to animals, even if we can’t completely get through life doing zero harm to them.  

    So, I’m not an animal rights activist.  But whenever I think about ordering a cheeseburger or a top sirloin steak, I think of both the health benefits and the ethical issues that persuade me to choose pasta marinara or bean burritos instead.  

    • #8
  9. DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    In 2010, I gave up eating meat, diary and eggs (all animal based foods) not for ethical reasons but because I became persuaded that giving up those foods would bring me health benefits.

    At the time that I stopped eating animal based food, I didn’t have any significant health issues. For example, I had not been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or hypertension. I had once been told my cholesterol was too high. Giving up animal based food did drop my serum (blood) cholesterol pretty significantly.

    But having been on a plant based diet for 12 years and hanging out with many ethical vegans, I have become a bit more sympathetic to the argument that we should at least try to minimize harm to animals, even if we can’t completely get through life doing zero harm to them.

    So, I’m not an animal rights activist. But whenever I think about ordering a cheeseburger or a top sirloin steak, I think of both the health benefits and the ethical issues that persuade me to choose pasta marinara or bean burritos instead.

    Whatever Shrug GIF - Whatever Shrug Idk - Discover & Share GIFs

    • #9
  10. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic … (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    In 2010, I gave up eating meat, diary and eggs (all animal based foods) not for ethical reasons but because I became persuaded that giving up those foods would bring me health benefits.

    At the time that I stopped eating animal based food, I didn’t have any significant health issues. For example, I had not been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or hypertension. I had once been told my cholesterol was too high. Giving up animal based food did drop my serum (blood) cholesterol pretty significantly.

    But having been on a plant based diet for 12 years and hanging out with many ethical vegans, I have become a bit more sympathetic to the argument that we should at least try to minimize harm to animals, even if we can’t completely get through life doing zero harm to them.

    So, I’m not an animal rights activist. But whenever I think about ordering a cheeseburger or a top sirloin steak, I think of both the health benefits and the ethical issues that persuade me to choose pasta marinara or bean burritos instead.

    Whatever Shrug GIF - Whatever Shrug Idk - Discover & Share GIFs

    How do you know if someone is vegan or does CrossFit?

    • #10
  11. TheRightNurse Member
    TheRightNurse
    @TheRightNurse

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    So, I’m not an animal rights activist.  But whenever I think about ordering a cheeseburger or a top sirloin steak, I think of both the health benefits and the ethical issues that persuade me to choose pasta marinara or bean burritos instead.

    Thanks.  This post isn’t really about that, but I appreciate you commenting anyway.

    I used to eat a “healthier” diet.  My hemoglobin was down 2 points, enough that I could no longer donate blood.  After marrying my husband (who eats far more red meat than I have in about 20 years), my hemoglobin is up 2 points and I’m generally no longer considered anemic.  I could, potentially, donate blood again.  There’s other reasons why I can’t/don’t, but my hemoglobin is no longer one of them.

    Additionally, it did no damage to my cholesterol at all.  The increase in cheese consumption definitely did.

    Regardless, when I think about my meat, I tend to choose more free-range options.  If I could and I didn’t live in SoCal, I’d go out and pick my meat in order to be the most ethical about my options.  I would be able to pick the ranch and even the specific steer at auction to have butchered for my family.  As it is, I do what I can.  I prefer my animals to have a decent quality of life prior to consumption, as a moral issue and as a point of culinary pride.  Animals should live as animals do.

    And then we should eat them that way.

    That means animals that graze, graze.

    I do think that most people do not want their food mistreated.

    • #11
  12. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    • #12
  13. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    I feel for your bird. We had a cat when I was a kid who was such a sweet mother to her kittens. When we have them away, she’d cry and cry for her babies. One of her offspring was a terrible mother and the Mama cat would even care for HER kittens. We got the derelict mother fixed right away. Eventually, Mama started hiding her babies from us so we wouldn’t take them. My dad eventually gave her away. He said to a farm. I know what that is a euphemism for. I’m going with the farm story.

    • #13
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    There is a place for all of God’s creatures.

    Right between the green beans and the baked potato will do just fine.

    • #14
  15. TheRightNurse Member
    TheRightNurse
    @TheRightNurse

    Percival (View Comment):

    There is a place for all of God’s creatures.

    Right between the green beans and the baked potato will do just fine.

    Meh.  Lovebirds got no meat in ’em.

    • #15
  16. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    TheRightNurse, radiant figure … (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    There is a place for all of God’s creatures.

    Right between the green beans and the baked potato will do just fine.

    Meh. Lovebirds got no meat in ’em.

    Yup. Chickens or bigger. 

    I had squab once. Tasted like pigeon.

    • #16
  17. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Percival (View Comment):

    TheRightNurse, radiant figure … (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    There is a place for all of God’s creatures.

    Right between the green beans and the baked potato will do just fine.

    Meh. Lovebirds got no meat in ’em.

    Yup. Chickens or bigger.

    I had squab once. Tasted like pigeon.

    Oh, not spotted owl?

    • #17
  18. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Stina (View Comment):

    I feel for your bird. We had a cat when I was a kid who was such a sweet mother to her kittens. When we have them away, she’d cry and cry for her babies. One of her offspring was a terrible mother and the Mama cat would even care for HER kittens. We got the derelict mother fixed right away. Eventually, Mama started hiding her babies from us so we wouldn’t take them. My dad eventually gave her away. He said to a farm. I know what that is a euphemism for. I’m going with the farm story.

    There are “working cats” programs for farms and other businesses, it’s a wonderful way for feral cats who could never adjust to being house-pets, to stay alive and be beneficial.

    I’ve had mama cats that were close to their offspring for their whole lives, and I’ve had mama cats that were very good mothers but wanted nothing to do with the babies once they were grown.  I don’t recall ever having a mama that totally neglected her babies.

    • #18
  19. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    This might help

    https://www.talkparrotlets.com/threads/how-to-discourage-egg-laying-by-minimizing-hormonal-behavior.87547/#post-1039843

    • #19
  20. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    I feel your pain.  Had a parrotlet hen for 10 years.  Lost her last year.

    this year I have a male.  A bit different problem with that.

    here is my little one and one of the many of his harem.

    • #20
  21. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    I feel your pain. Had a parrotlet hen for 10 years. Lost her last year.

    this year I have a male. A bit different problem with that.

    here is my little one and one of the many of his harem.

    Avian sex robot ^

    • #21
  22. DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    TBA (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    I feel your pain. Had a parrotlet hen for 10 years. Lost her last year.

    this year I have a male. A bit different problem with that.

    here is my little one and one of the many of his harem.

    Avian sex robot ^

    Underrated comment.

    • #22
  23. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    But avian sex robots don’t make the eggs hatch.  And she wants her eggs to hatch.

    • #23
  24. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member
    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw
    @MattBalzer

    TBA (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    I feel your pain. Had a parrotlet hen for 10 years. Lost her last year.

    this year I have a male. A bit different problem with that.

    here is my little one and one of the many of his harem.

    Avian sex robot ^

    I saw Avian Sex Robot open for Daft Punk in ’08.

    • #24
  25. TheRightNurse, radiant figure of feminine kindness Member
    TheRightNurse, radiant figure of feminine kindness
    @TheRightNurse

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    This might help

    https://www.talkparrotlets.com/threads/how-to-discourage-egg-laying-by-minimizing-hormonal-behavior.87547/#post-1039843

    Thank you.  I have read a lot of these ideas before, but some of them are new and helpful.  We try to keep to specific daylight/darkness hours for her.  But with only a few rooms in the house, there’s about zero chance of complete quiet.

    • #25
  26. TheRightNurse, radiant figure of feminine kindness Member
    TheRightNurse, radiant figure of feminine kindness
    @TheRightNurse

    kedavis (View Comment):
    I don’t recall ever having a mama that totally neglected her babies.

    I had a very, very sweet rabbit that used to only make a nest an hour (max!) before labor.  She’d start pulling fur frantically and then had her babies all over the cage, rather than in the nest box.  She was frazzled by the whole thing and was lucky we were there or all the babies would have died.

    • #26
  27. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    TheRightNurse, radiant figure …: As the days get brighter and longer, the little hen senses the season.  She tears the newspaper at the bottom of her cage into shreds and places them into a round, creating an approximation of the nest she’d make if only I would provide better materials.  She settles down and then the time arrives.

    At our previous house we had a veritable city of bird nests in the evergreen shrubs around the deck, and the birds used an amazing variety of stuff to build those nests. One time as I was eating lunch on the deck, one of them just took my paper napkin from next to my plate and took it into the shrub to add to a nest. 

    At our current house, last week was the week for the baby mockingbirds to learn to fly. A few of them use our front porch as their first base as they learn the basics, such as the existence of gravity. In just a few days they go from round fuzzy globes with stubby wings and tails that stumble around and fall off the furniture, into graceful birds with long elegant tail feathers. Lots of fun to watch, as my study looks out onto the porch. In a prior year, one of the babies wandered into our house when I opened the door without realizing the bird was just outside the door. Its lack of flying capability enabled us to quickly catch it and return it to the outdoors. 

    • #27
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.