Not really a fan of balut, thanks.
November 22, 2010 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Duck(?) laid an egg on my balcony. What do I do now?

I live on a 2nd story unit in an apartment complex that is home to a large number of muscovy ducks, and once or twice (in the 2 years I've been here) I've seen one of the females walking around my balcony and pecking through the potted plants. Last night I returned from a 10-day trip and when I looked outside this morning I saw an egg in the key lime. I went out and picked it up for a second - it's intact, doesn't smell bad or anything, and I tried to put it back in about the same half-buried position.

I don't particularly care about the plant since it was just a seed I tossed in to see what would happen, and I'll be moving in a month anyway (anyone in Houston interested in some plants?), but I don't want to leave the egg out there without it being taken care of. I don't know enough to tell if it's fertilized, either - if it is, can I expect that the parent duck will come back to incubate it? Will the fact that I picked it up affect anything? Can I eat it?
posted by casarkos to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
. . . but I don't want to leave the egg out there without it being taken care of. . . . Can I eat it?

I love your train of thought. My guess is that the egg is abandoned, or will be now that you've picked it up. Leave it alone for a few days and see what happens. After that, I recommend scrambling it with some salsa verde.
posted by Think_Long at 10:59 AM on November 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yes, you can eat the egg. All bird eggs are edible.
Since you picked up the egg it is possible that the mother will detect some odor left by your fingers and will not accept the egg as hers.
If you want to know if the egg is fertilized, you can hold it up to a bright light source (a lightbulb works fine) and see whether there is an embryo inside the egg - under the right lighting conditions, the shell is translucent. In the poultry industry this procedure is known as "candling" since it used to be done with candles, prior to the invention of more convenient light sources. Note that the egg is still edible, even if it contains an embryo - but you will probably prefer to throw out the embryo, and just eat the remaining yolk and white.
posted by grizzled at 11:01 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most birds have no or nearly no sense of smell (vultures are the exception, of course). The whole thing about not touching baby birds because the parents will detect your smell and reject the baby is a myth.

I vote for eating it.
posted by rtha at 11:08 AM on November 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


If you candle the egg, find it unfertilised, and want to eat it but doubt its date, put it in a bowl of water. If it floats, it's too old.
posted by Pallas Athena at 11:09 AM on November 22, 2010


it is possible that the mother will detect some odor left by your fingers

Nah, that's a myth. Birds can't smell.

I actually doubt that a bird laid that egg there in that pot. I bet you that a raccoon left it there after stealing it out of a Muscovy duck nest. Muscovy ducks lay in clutches of I think six or more eggs, and in nests.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:10 AM on November 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Since you picked up the egg it is possible that the mother will detect some odor left by your fingers

While it is a myth that birds can't smell, they're not going to distinguish a smidge of human scent on an egg or reject it on that account.
posted by beagle at 11:10 AM on November 22, 2010


And no, the duck will not come back to incubate it. Because the duck is incubating the other eggs that didn't get stolen out of the nest.

Nor should you eat it, because raccoons have tons of germs like whoa. Just throw it away. Or leave it for the raccoon to eat later, I guess. Raccoons do have great olfactories, but they don't mind humans touching their food so much. But I wouldn't want to encourage raccoons to dine on my patio.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:13 AM on November 22, 2010


While it is a myth that birds can't smell

Yes, I overstated that. I should have said "Most birds, including ducks, can hardly smell at all." There are some sea birds that can smell fairly well. Thanks, beagle!
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:14 AM on November 22, 2010


It is one.friggin.egg. One.friggin.egg.that.you.don't.know.where.it.came.from. One.friggin.egg.that.could.have.experienced.a.whole.range.of.terrible.things. One.friggin.egg.that.you.can't.even.identify.for.certain. One.friggin.egg.that.may.have.been.sitting.there.in.the.sun.for.10.days.

You want to eat that?

Send me your address, I'll send a coupon for a dozen fresh eggs at your local farmer's market, you can thank me later for saving your life.
posted by HuronBob at 11:23 AM on November 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


Well, you can do what I did when I was 7 and I found a lone duck egg sitting on the grass far away from the local pond: take it home, make a little nest for it out of a tissue box, put it under a desk lamp, lovingly quarter-turn it several times a day and then sob like a little girl when two weeks later it hatched a significant sulfur-scented explosion instead of a fluffy duckling.

Given that experience, I'd just leave it where it is. The plant will enjoy the fertilizer.
posted by jamaro at 11:33 AM on November 22, 2010 [18 favorites]


Send me your address, I'll send a coupon for a dozen fresh eggs at your local farmer's market, you can thank me later for saving your life.

But what if that egg contains the most savory thing on earth and you let it slip through your fingers?! Dude, I vote eat it. If you get deathly ill, I apologize. Or you could wait until the raccoon comes back and eat the coon. But wash it first.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:04 PM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


HuronBob: "It is one.friggin.egg. One.friggin.egg.that.you.don't.know.where.it.came.from. One.friggin.egg.that.could.have.experienced.a.whole.range.of.terrible.things. One.friggin.egg.that.you.can't.even.identify.for.certain. One.friggin.egg.that.may.have.been.sitting.there.in.the.sun.for.10.days."

Some of us would rather live without constantly fearing death, illness, or the unknown. The romance of eating an egg that was serendipitously placed in our lives outweighs any slim chance of suffering.

Which is to say, eat it with a giant plate of beans or don't eat it at all.
posted by yaymukund at 2:54 PM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think you'd be fine if you eat it, but I personally don't think duck eggs are very nice scrambled or fried or poached- too rubbery. I will only eat them hard boiled or in a cake or something.

One.friggin.egg.that.may.have.been.sitting.there.in.the.sun.for.10.days.

Most supermarket eggs are on average more than 10 days old.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:51 PM on November 22, 2010


The romance of eating an egg that was serendipitously placed in our lives outweighs any slim chance of suffering.

I fail to see the romance in swiping a potentially rabid animal's dinner myself. It's like an interspecies Old Country Buffet.

Seriously, urban raccoons are vectors of viral and microbial and parasitic infections like whoa. I would not advise anyone to eat this egg, or even to touch it with their bare hands. Ringworm is not serendipitous.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:03 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are some sea birds that can smell fairly well. And turkey vultures.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:23 PM on November 23, 2010


I raise ducks:

-It won't ever become a duckling.
-Mom isn't coming back for it. They tend to hang around if they're laying in a spot.
-I could see a duck laying in there, it's sorta nest-shaped and kind of sheltered. Still and all
-It might have been placed there by a 'coon.
-If you want known-fresh duck eggs, memail me your address, I'll send you a half-dozen or so. I've got way more than I could use.
posted by nevercalm at 12:51 PM on December 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you were on the west coast I'd take you up on that in a heartbeat.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:52 PM on December 8, 2010


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