Almost Lost an Egg

The egg the currawong dropped

Recently I went to let the chickens out at 7 AM (the sun comes up at a much more socially acceptable hour since we went on summer time). Rosie and Isabel were pacing by the gate but Bronwyn was still laying.

I fed the 2 girls their handful of pellets and when I was ready to go back in the house, Bronwyn was coming out of her coop. I checked and, sure enough, she’d laid. I cleaned out the poo from under their roost and went to get some clean paper. Bronwyn followed slavishly and I rewarded her with her own handful of pellets.

When I went to go back down to put the clean paper in the coop I noticed a currawong sitting on the open nest box. They’re always in the area robbing mulberries, bathing or just watching the world go by, so I didn’t think much of this visit. Here he is in the gum tree – or if not him, his cousin.

As I approached the coop, the currawong and his mate flew silently away. I changed the roost paper and noticed Isabel squatting oddly in the bushes near the coop. I figured the currawongs had scared her but her squat was not the normal frightened stance. Another glance showed she was staring at an egg on the ground.

My first thought was she’d started laying outside of the nest box (a potential pain in the neck). Then I looked back in the nest box where I’d left Bronwyn’s egg to find the box empty.

Apparently the currawong had entered the nest box in the 4 minutes I’d left it unattended, grabbed the egg (in its claw is the only physical possibility) lifted the egg out of the box (I would have said that was a physical impossibility. How did it spread its wings to take flight? How high can it hop clutching an egg?) and dropped the egg (no wonder, it weighs 64 grams which is small by Bronwyn’s standards but hardly light). Isabel no doubt witnessed the whole thing and was going to protect the egg with her life – or possibly eat it if it broke.

The good news is the egg is safe, Isabel hasn’t started laying in the bushes (her egg was laid 30 minutes later in the nest box), Isabel did not discover eggs are tasty treats (the death knell to a good egg harvest) and the currawong was thwarted from its theft.

Whew, that was a close one. Perhaps in the future I should close the nest box or carry the egg away when I’m cleaning out the coop. Another lesson learned in the chicken keeping biz.

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About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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6 Responses to Almost Lost an Egg

  1. Coop Poop says:

    What an seemingly unlikely “predator” …Is the currawong in the raven family?

    • I have heard of ravens and magpies stealing eggs so it makes sense for currawongs to do it. But knowing and seeing are 2 different things and I’d love to see how these birds actually carry an egg away. I always figured they ate them in situ. Do you think they could fly with such a heavy (and kind of slippery) object? It reminds me of that classic Monty Python film – The Holy Grail. The scene where they are discussing how a bird could carry a coconut by gripping the husk when the guard points out that “It’s not a question of where he grips it! It’s a simple question of weight ratios!” I love that scene ๐Ÿ™‚

      Currawongs aren’t really part of the raven family, though I had to check Wikipedia to be sure. They sure look a lot like ravens. Sort of like a love child between a raven and a magpie actually.

  2. Protect the egg with her life – or possibly eat it! Love it. That made me giggle out loud ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. vuchickens says:

    What a funny story! I can’t believe that bird would try to steal it right under your nose! Good girl, Isabel!

    • I think all the birds for miles around have me pegged as a soft touch. I’m sure they spread the word that if they want to steal a few berries, my yard is the place to do it. I imagine the currawong was impressed with the size of the berry I left for him this time ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Yes, good girl, Isabel, she stands guard even if I don’t!

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