Today, was the first time I’ve seen a bird lay an egg live. Priceless moment there. Pete, Michael and I all in the murre blind with our eyes glued to our binoculars, intently watching this one bird. You know a murre’s going to pop one out because she adopts a distinctive posture. Stand up straight on your webbed feet, spread those wings a little, legs apart, take a deep breath and just PUSH!
Slowly but surely, a large lump slowly inches it way down the murre’s torso. At this point, all three of us are eagerly egging (ha ha) her on. Come on! You can do it! The lump aproaches just above her legs now, any moment. And soon, BLOOP (this is the sound effect that plays in my head), an egg pops out. It. just. pops. out. None of this screaming, crying, cursing business. No placenta, umblical cords or bloody messes. Just an egg that seems almost too big to have come out from that one relieved looking murre.
We were lucky enough to witness two egg laying occasions. However at the first one, the murre’s mate was present. The anxious father staying by the awkwardly stiff about-to-drop female murre, was constantly preening his mate (and probably whispering silent murre purrs of encouragement!) Quite moving really. After the bright white egg is laid, both murres lower their heads and stare at their future offspring, I imagine, with amazement and pleasure and pride. Another Good Job! mutual preening, and one murre will soon easily sidle over the egg to keep it warm and away from the relentlessly voracious western gulls.
Hence, after that functional family egg laying occasion, I felt a little bad for the next murre who’s sorry excuse of a mate was AWOL. Or maybe she got knocked up on a migratory trip down to Baja and has no clue who the father is. Well I sure hope that dead beat shows up because single murre mums don’t get welfare here on the Farallones. And without a dad or welfare, your kid doesn’t just get a crappy education or have to wear hand-me-downs. It dies.
Here’s the single mother. Crappy photo, but she was far away. It’s the murre on the far right, peering down at it’s white speckled egg. Its fascinating how many different colours the eggs come in. Clean spankin’ white, speckled white or even a bright turquoise/aqua speckled blue.
The two birds next to the eggy murre recently had their egg smashed and consumed by a gull. After all that effort! But I get the gull. Humans used to come to this forsaken little island to harvest murre eggs and as a result drastically reduced their population. The eggs are supposed to have a greenish sheen and are rather tasty. I just hope the chinese genes in me don’t choose to express themselves in an inopportune moment. I can picture myself with a western gull-ish gleam in my eye, nabbing the next freshly laid murre baby and poaching it at a delicious temperature of 143.6 degrees [62C] for the perfect egg.