I was hoping by this time to announce to the blogosphere the birth of a brood of baby peachicks at Andalusia. Unfortunately, I am not going to be able to do so. More than a month ago we noticed one of the hens sitting on a clutch of eight eggs. Since we didn't wish to count our (pea)chickens before they were hatched, we resisted the temptation to post anything about it on the blog, website, or Facebook. We were, nevertheless, pretty excited about this prospect and planned to hand out candy cigars in the gift shop once the birds were born. A couple weeks ago I went out to the aviary while the hen was off the nest and counted only four eggs. Where did the others go, I wondered? Not wanting to disturb the nest or alarm the mother I chose not go into the coop for a closer look. The same thing happened again last week, only this time there was only one egg left. On Monday morning when I went out to feed the birds, I was able to go into the coop and have a look around. This time the nest was empty. I dug around in the straw to see if, perhaps, the sole surviving egg had been moved. There were no signs of it anywhere. What could have happened? The aviary protects our birds from all predators - except one. Snakes.
An email to one of our visitors, a man who raises peafowl, confirmed what we had suspected all along. According to him, only a snake would eat an egg and not leave behind any shell remnants. Moreover, the culprit(s) had to be pretty large - at least in the 41/2 to 5 foot range - in order to unhinge their jaws wide enough to down a peacock egg. This good man also gave us some recommendations for preventing a similar outcome in the future.
Despite the violence in the aviary, I am happy to report that none of our birds was harmed. Indeed, they seem happier than ever munching on the parrot treats we bought them in the wake of this rather disturbing incident.