Extraordinary Eggs

eggsWe all know what a chicken egg looks like—hard shell, gooey clear stuff inside that turns white when you cook it, yellow yolk in the middle. You may have noticed that twisted “umbilical cord” and maybe you fished it out before frying your breakfast. If you break an egg into a bowl, you’ll find that the white (the albumen) has a thicker part around the yolk, and a thinner part further out. And if you’ve ever peeled a hard cooked egg, you might remember two layers of translucent membrane just inside the shell—removing them as you go makes it easier to get the shell off.

But have you ever really looked at an egg? Wondered what all the parts do? An egg is actually an amazingly sophisticated way of protecting and providing for a developing bird embryo.

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Nature’s Easter Eggs

eggsWith many of us dying Easter eggs this week, I got curious about eggs that are naturally colored. We’ve raised chickens (Ameraucanas) that laid turquoise-to-olive eggs; our current flock of Black Sex-links lay in shades of tan. In fact, I usually have to buy white eggs at the store in order to achieve those pastel Easter hues.

But what about other kinds of birds? For instance, why do American Robins lay blue eggs, Burrowing Owls lay white eggs, while the American Golden Plover lays eggs that look like ovoid granite rocks, with big, black speckles on a white background? How and why do eggs come in so many colors?

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