(sorry about poor quality. It was difficult to get a good picture.)
Last spring I had the chance to incubate a duck egg. It was one of the most fascinating experiences of my life. There is a process called "candling" where you can see inside the egg to gauge it's development. By taking a box with a light on the inside and placing the egg over a small hole cut at the top of the box, in a dark room you are able to see the growth of the cells inside the shell wall.
What started out as a small heart and veins running through the entire inside, developed into a "jumping embryo" until it had filled half of the egg and was difficult to detect movement. For some reason it really surprise me when the embryo started moving and you could feel life through the shell. It was something right out of cell biology and was the most bizarre and beautiful thing I had ever witnessed about the beginning of life.
Due to the nature of incubating my time was completely invested in this little egg. I had to turn the egg three times a day at regular scheduled intervals. Due to the poor quality of the incubator I had to constantly regulate the temperature as it didn't have a thermostat and there were some scary moments when the temperature spiked or dropped. Even when the temperature was fairly stable it still fluctuated and I had to continually check and make adjustments throughout the day and night. I also had to maintain the humidity inside the incubator. I was on constant alert with this little guy and did plenty of worrying and fretting like any new mother-to-be who had the responsibility of this tiny life in their hands.
Sadly my baby duck died before he could hatch. I took his death pretty hard as I had watched this incredible life form before my eyes. I had already had a name picked out: Lucky Ducky. It wasn't original but it fit him.
It was such a blessing to witness this miracle of life and was heartbreaking that it ended as quickly, but I have never forgotten Lucky. He now quacks freely with two of our other ducks that passed on before him. There was something about actually witnessing the beginning of life that changed the way I view life and impacted me very deeply. Who would have thought that an egg could bring about such love? Watching Lucky grow was an awesome example of the miracle of life and the love that surrounds us.
Here is a youtube video of a 9 day old chick that shows the "jumping embryo": 9 day old chick embryo
Here is another one that shows at day 15: Candling Duck Egg Day 15