I was pretty sure the mother died just a day or two before their hatch date, so I wasn’t surprised to find bird embryos in the eggs. But I was startled at how beautiful I perceived them to be…in their own alien-esque way.

This was Baby A, the pink baby.

Baby Bird A Claws

At first I thought the artfully-arranged black streaks were blood vessels, until I got closer and realized they were embryonic feathers. You can also clearly see her fledgling wings, eyes and claws, and how she was curled up in her egg in a perfect fetal position.

She was firmly attached to her yolk, so Ali and I were able to talk about yolks and placentas and how babies are nourished while in the womb or an egg.

Baby Bird A Back

We also discussed the yolk-only egg, and how that egg must not have gotten Daddy’s part of the deal (we talk about the birds and the bees early in our family.)

Baby B had a much more pale yellow tint to him, but as soon as I opened his egg, the perfectly-formed beak captured me.

Baby Bird B

He was bigger than Baby A,

Baby Bird B Second

As he had a nice, rotund stomach ready to survive in the world. We also noted the blood vessels on the inside of his egg.

Baby Bird B Stomach

We studied the siblings for a while, discussed that we were sad they didn’t have the opportunity to live outside their eggs, then, with my surgical tools of a sturdy piece of pine straw and a wet wipe, detached them from their yolks, cleaned up our porch laboratory, and put them next to the unbroken egg for size comparison.

Bird A and B and Egg

And then we thanked Noah for his accidental-yet-destructive curiosity. Because neither Ali nor I would have had the guts to do it.


…And we still have one unbroken egg, if anyone else needs their science credit for next year.

30 thoughts on “Science is For the Birds.

  1. That is cool, in a gross sort of way! :). We have a bunch of nests here that blew out of the trees this last week, but i haven’t seen any whole eggs, just parts.

    If you’re looking for a new science program, check out the nature science book series from Queen Homeschool, I used them with my daughters for a couple years and they loved them. It’s pretty informal, a notebooking style, and all combined in a workbook. Lots of drawing, coloring, and observing with minimal preparation.

  2. How fascinating! I would never be able to actually open an egg, either, but looking at the embryos was really cool. It was amazing to me how tiny the eggs were in comparison to Noah’s hands–like, malted-milk-egg size. (Um, sorry if that ruins malted-milk eggs for anyone.) I would give this episode of Rachel Does Science an A+.

    You didn’t miss out on much by ducking out of dissections. I spent most of that section in my Biology class yelling at my two (male) lab partners for flicking frog eyes at each other, while I was trying to be studious and actually learn enough about those frog innards to do well on the test.

    1. They’re actually the same shape and colors as Cadbury Mini Eggs- my favorite seasonal candy. I had to warn Chris that the last one was sitting on the counter and it was NOT a leftover Mini Egg.

  3. I appreciate the option to view or not. I’m sure it’s fascinating, but thanks for making it a second page. I still have horrifying memories of nearly fainting in grade 12 biology.

  4. I clicked through. I dissected a bunch of stuff in 9th grade bio, so it doesn’t really bother me :) My squicks are much more related to humans.

  5. That is truly fascinating. It’s great that Ali got to see that and correlate it with how human babies grow in a mom’s womb. I’ve never seen anything like that; thanks for sharing.

  6. Wow. Fascinating. You underestimate yourself; I can’t imagine a better science lesson, or a better way to explain it all.

  7. That is a great unplanned lesson! Poor little birds but at least your kids got an up close and personal view. That’s pretty cool. I don’t think you can say you’re not good at science lessons any more :)

  8. That is so cool and gross and amazing and awesome. I’m glad it happened to you and not me, though. I can handle a lot of things, but I”m not sure unborn baby birds are one of them.

  9. This is so awesome..except for the fact that I won’t be able to eat eggs for about three months! I guess you did warn me. :) I am a homeschool mom too and these little lessons along the way is one of the reasons I love it, :)

  10. This is an A+ lesson for sure!
    I know I’ve said it before, but I LOVE that Noah is always without a shirt. Our first is very modest, and covers up all the time. But our 2 year old peels his clothes off every chance he gets and says, “I NaNed!” (translation; Naked)

  11. Wow, that was gross but also amazing! I’m in awe of God’s creation. Those eggs are so tiny, but the perfectly formed little beak is just amazing. Good job on the science lesson! I’m sure that had much more impact than any typical science lesson could ever have!!!

  12. Science isn’t my forte either. I highly recommend the Mcwane homeschool science labs. They only meet once a month, which provides the perfect balance of not adding one more weekly thing to make our lives feel hectic, while providing at least SOME hands on fun science stuff (that I don’t have to do!). We loved it!

  13. Just a warning…we had a nest above our front door for years that a bird would come back to and lay eggs every so often. I heard the momma bird squawking one night a few weeks ago and decided the eggs must have hatched. I opened the door so I could peek at the birds and instead of seeing baby birds…I saw a snake eating the baby birds! :( My momma heart broke for the momma bird and then I freaked out! lol I never thought I would see a snake UP instead of down! Moral of the story, if you let birds make a nest on your porch, you might attract snakes! Another part of the circle of life! :)

  14. So I am sort of curious about how you talk about the birds and the bees early. I SOOOO want to do this with my girls so it really is not some secret and hidden thing. But my husband is completely against it. My oldest is very smart and already figured out where babies come out. She has tried to get library books recently about the topic. She is 6 but reads at a 4th grade level so I think I might let her, but help her choose the book. But my husband would lose it. He already lost it when my 3 yearold talked about the fact that boys have tails in front. I have her the correct term and she told him. I have yet to hear the end of that!!

  15. I was hesitant at first to click over, but I`m glad I did. It really was sad and fascinating all at once.

  16. Very cool! Much more so than any packaged science lesson. My daughter and her friends dissected a snake one time after they had learned about it in school. I think kids are a lot more open to the gross/natural stuff than adults learn to be. Good job!

  17. Lovely lesson! Next spring I highly recommend the different nestcams from Cornell. l have watched their red-tailed hawk cam for three years, from egg-laying through hatch and fledge. And you will see that NOT all bird daddies are useless! The commentators on the chat can really help you learn more about what you are seeing. I think you and the children will find them fascinating! http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/16/Red-tailed_Hawks/

  18. That’s really neat! Thanks for the detailed pictures. My 4yr old learned about the fragility of little bird eggs a few weeks ago when we found a killdeer egg in the grass at a cemetery. He was mad at me so he picked it when I told him not to and was too rough, sticking his finger through it. He was quite shocked when it broke and got his hand wet. It was just yellow inside. I don’t think he learned anything tho:(

  19. Really, really neat, but sad. :-( I feel so bad for all the birds! The babies and the mommy. Sigh. I’m such a sucker for animals. BUT I’m glad you guys got such a neat science lesson out of it! Silver lining.

  20. I doubt that you will print my comment, although that would be the honest and respectful thing to do. And I would like to hear your honest response to what I have to say.
    I am deeply saddened not only by your own lack of expression of any understanding of the seriousness of the predation problem posed by cats allowed to roam freely outdoors, but by the lack of reactions exhibiting that view. Almost all of our native songbirds are in a steep decline in numbers, some down to only 10 to 30% of their populations of a few decades ago. While loss of habitat is one cause, as is climate change, domestic cats represent a loss of billions, yes that is not a mistake, BILLIONS of songbirds a year! I am appalled at people (including personal friends) who believe that the “happiness” of their pet cat is more important than the survival of numerous species of birds. Not only will the world, and our lives, and the lives of our descendants (if there are any left) be the poorer for it, it is ultimately this crumbling of the fabric of interrelationships of all species that will spell the end of Nature on this planet.

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