Choosing Your Chickens

cecilia-chicksIt’s spring. Bulbs are blooming, birds are singing, and feed stores have fluffy yellow baby chicks!

When we were still living in Silicon Valley, finding a source for baby chicks was a challenge. These days, no matter where you live, buying chicks is easy. There are lots of hatcheries that sell by mail-order. It may seem odd that day-old baby chickens are shipped in a cardboard box via snail mail, but it actually works very well. Newly hatched chicks can survive without food or water for the day or two it takes to arrive at their destination. The post office will call you as soon as the box arrives, and you have to be ready to rush over and pick up your brood.


Brown Ducks

This mallard really is a female.

“They’re all females! Where did the males go?”

My friend and I were newbie birders; I’d started keeping a “Life List” only two months earlier. August found us at our favorite spot—the local nature center’s ponds. As usual, the water was covered with ducks and other waterfowl. But the more we stared through our binoculars, the more confused we got. All the ducks were brown! What had happened to the familiar green heads of the mallards? We figured that some of the “females” must be immature males, but where were the adults? (more…)