Ornithologists at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, having precious little to do in 1934, hatched – or rather engineered the hatching of, since they didn’t actually sit on the eggs themselves or do much of anything other than whisper words of encouragement to those actually sitting on the eggs – the very first ptarmigans in captivity. Ornithologists and students of game birds throughout the country – and possibly the world – held glasses on high and stood and cheered this bold step in quasi-motherhood. These folks had been increasingly interested in experiments in hand-rearing and introducing game birds to new areas, for reasons that remain unclear.

     Known to their devotees in the bird world as Lagopus leucurus, the hatchlings also went by the name White-tailed Ptarmigan or Eskimo Chicken. They came from two and a half cartons of ptarmigan eggs “collected” by a Doctor (conspiracy theorists take note) Alien, of Cornell’s Department of Ornithology on Canada’s Hudson Bay. They were then smuggled transported to Ithaca where they were put under unsuspecting and very confused bantams.  These foster mothers broke several of the eggs while trying to figure out what they were. Nevertheless several hatched, leaving the mothers wondering if they had truly given birth to these strange little creatures, even though the Mysterious Doctor Alien had read the “Ugly Duckling” to them several times.  One small step for ptarmigans, one giant leap for aviankind.

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. − C. S. Lewis
If you know someone who is patiently sitting on eggs, you could keep her contented by reading her passages from Terry and the Pirate.  You never know what might hatch.  Check it out at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple.

3 thoughts on “July 24, 1934: Seriously, Are You My Mother?

  1. So I guess this finally answers the question that has baffled mankind (maybe not so much womankind) for-almost-ever, “What came first the Eskimo Chicken or the egg?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s