Notes from Windward: #70


Baby Bird Report

Opalyn's quest for sex-linked chicks

     While visiting Portland earlier this year, I headed over to Free Geek to check out power supplies and fans so I could replace the fan that failed last fall killing off our last clutch of eggs.

     While doing the repairs a clutch of 33 guinea eggs was discovered. I quickly finished the repairs and got the incubation supplies out of storage. I set up one egg turner in the repaired Warmerator and unpacked the Styrofoam incubator with a second egg turner.

      With both incubators on-line we can incubate about 80 eggs at one time. But since I have not had much success with holding eggs over until I have a large clutch I add a few eggs every day and there are always eggs going into the incubators which makes record keeping an important step in the process.

     Initially the Warmerator was too warm and only one guinea hatched. Using our new temperature sensing probes that we brought home from Berkeley I cooled off the Warmerator and now we have fifteen chicks in our brooder.

     With the season's first butchering behind us, the Chick Plex was finally put to its intended purpose of breeding pure lines and crosses. Here is a diagram of the Chick Plex showing the breeding birds and planned crosses.

pen layout in our breeding complex
smaller pens are 4'x8', larger pen is 4'x20'

     So far I've had success with hatching pure Cuckoo Marans.

one day old Cuckoo Maran

one week old Cuckoo Maran

two week old Cuckoo Maran

     Some Hatcheries offer sex-linked birds such as the Red Star. A "sex-link" chick can be sexed by color when they hatch. Most six linked birds are a cross between a Red Rooster (either a Rhode Island or New Hampshire) and either a leghorn or a Wyandotte hen.

     We decided to order in some silver-laced Wyandottes last year and now I am crossing them with the Rhodies and the Cuckoo Marans. Several birds have hatched form the Silver Laced Wyandotte hen and Rhode Island Red Rooster cross and four of the birds are primarily golden and one is red. I'm keeping all these birds initially to see how they grow and if they truly are sex-linked.

just hatched‒not even dry yet
Wyandotte-Rhodie cross

one day old "Silver-Reds" nesting in my palm

one day old "Silver-Reds" nesting
on the bottom self of the warmerator

Three day old ready to take on the world
or at least the chicken coop


July 31: more chick pics

     Windward is now crawling with over 50 baby birds, alive and well. It has been a challenge to keep track of the six different cross breeds plus ducks and guineas as well as finding housing for the little ones.

     Last week everyone pitched in and we got the "enriched" wood chips hauled out of the ChickPlex and a new bed of chips laid. A shop light provides heat. A few broken buckets have been cut down to make small ponds. An old window shield provides shelter and helps keep the little ones warm if they need it, if they don't you find them out in front. With these tasks accomplished the ducklings and some cuckoo crosses moved into one of the pens.

ducklings and cuckoo crosses
playing in their pond

     The pure cuckoo line and some silver-rhodies graduated to the box brooder. It is a 4'x4' square space built last summer.

the outdoor brooder box

     The other little ones are divided between the two commercial brooder units we own.

The first few days the little ones get an
old box lid full of food to peck in until they're
old enough to learn to eat from a feeder

     With only three adult ducks surviving from last summer it is exciting to have eight healthy hatchlings.

adult India Runner ducks

the pic's fuzzy but too cute to not include

Rhode Island Update

a day old Rhodie

a Rhode Island Red getting plumage

a Rhodie getting his comb and wattle

masculine features starting to develop

surplus male Rhodes from last summer
about to be invited to dinner

Cuckoo Maran Photo Shoot

10 day old Cuckoo Maran

11 day old Cuckoo Maran

18 day old Cuckoo Maran surrounded by silver-rhody crosses

one month old Cuckoo Maran

one month old Cuckoo Maran - possible masculine plumage

Cuckoo Maran Crosses

     It has been difficult to keep the cross breeds straight. Initially, the eggs are marked with the specific cross: CM hen and rooster, Cuckoo hen with RIR rooster, Silver-Laced Wyandotte hen and RIR hen with CM rooster. Another challenge is that with only two Cuckoo Maran roosters the SLW and RIR hens are in the same pen with a CM rooster.

two day old cuckoo cross

one week old cuckoo cross

two week old cuckoo cross

Guinea Fowl

     We have been having mixed results with our guineas this year. Our adult flock started the year with four birds, but has dwindled to three now that one guinea got caught in some wire and couldn't extract itself. Two of the remaining guineas‒two are about one year old and the other is at least two years old.

      I have collected several clutches with only one healthy baby bird. One possible reason is that guineas mate for life, and if the remaining birds consist of one male and two females, the lone female will continue laying but the eggs will be unfertilized.

a baby guinea

     We have two more clutches in the incubator. One clutch we collected on July 15 and fifteen eggs look like they are developing when I candled them yesterday. The other clutch was just collected two days ago.

     We look forward to seeing more guineas in our future.


     Our Silver-Laced Wyandottes crossed with a Rhode Island Red Rooster have been producing some beautiful blonde or red chicks.

a group of blondes with a red

close up of a red "Silver-Rhodie

close up of a red "Silver-Rhodie and a RIR chick

red is getting plumage and look at the eye markings

close up of a blonde "Silver-Rhodie"

a blonde starting to get plumage

a blonde with more plumage

a blonde with wings outstretched

     I'm hoping that this first generation of silver-rhodies will prove to be sex linked, but with only three red birds out of almost 20, I'm a hesitant to conclude that the three reds are one sex and that the 17 blondes are the other. So, I'm waiting for them to grow up a bit more. Larger combs and more developed plumage will help sex the birds, eventually allowing me to sex them at ever earlier levels of developments.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 70