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    Home / Science lessons / All About Chickens & Eggs
    • All About Chickens & Eggs

      All About Chickens & Eggs

      How a Chick Hatches

      A female chicken is called a hen, a baby chicken is called a chick, and a male chicken is called a rooster. A baby chick's life cycle starts when its mother hen lays an egg. This egg has a big yellow yolk that contains all the food the chick needs while it grows inside the egg. The yolk floats in the egg white, which protects it and contains water for the chick. For about 21 days the hen sits on her eggs, covering them with her feathers to keep them warm. Several times daily she turns the eggs with her beak, which keeps the yolk from sinking down and crushing the chick against the shell.

      When it is time for the chick to hatch, it pecks holes in the shell with a bump on its beak called an egg tooth. A few days after the chick has hatched, the egg tooth falls off because the chick no longer needs it! A baby chick has to take lots of breaks to rest, and when it finally gets out of the shell it doesn't get up and move right away -- getting out of that egg shell was hard work and the baby is too tired! Its feathers are wet and stringy, but they soon dry and become fluffy.

      Baby chicks grow up quickly. Young girls are called pullets and young boys are called cockerels. Pretty soon they will be grown-up hens and roosters and start having their own babies!

      Laying Eggs

      All birds lay eggs, but they don't all do it in exactly the same way:

      • Most birds build nests out of twigs and grass or mud. Nests keep the eggs and chicks protected from other animals who might want to eat them. Many birds build their nests in trees, but some build them on the ground.
      • Emperor penguins live in snow and ice and don't have anything to build nests with. The female penguin lays just one egg at a time and to keep it war, she balances it on top of her feet and under her feathers for two whole months!
      • Some cuckoo birds don't build their own nest or take care of their own chicks. They lay their eggs in the nest of another bird and let that bird take care of them.
      • Swiftlets in Asia build their nests on the ceilings of caves. They build them out of their own spit! People in Asia sometimes cook these nests to make bird's nest soup.

      Looking for more egg science? Check out this fizzing Easter egg dye and this easy egg race project. 

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