Eggs can be found on almost each breakfast table as well as in cakes, pasta and cookie dough. Unfortunately, Easter is under the sign of the Corona crises this year. Nevertheless the easter bunny will bring and hide a lot of colorful eggs again. In nature, however, none of the eggs are alike. No wonder that the bird egg science is a separate diciplinary of ornithology and is called oology. It deals wirth shape, size and color of bird eggs. Eggs even pla an important role during the vaccine production – further info on this subject a bit later.
But what’s behind the hard shell? Basically, an egg consists of carbonated lime, is multi-layered and porous with a large number of pores so that the egg can breathe. A chicken egg, for example, has about 7,000 pores. If you want to see peregrine falcon eggs now for Easter, you can do it live until about the end of April via the LBV peregrine falcon webcam.
The ostrich lays the largest egg, but the wren’s egg is many times larger compared to its body size/ height. The wren’s egg weight is 14 percent of the little bird’s body weight, while an ostrich egg is less than two percent only. The greatest number of eggs lay chicken birds, such as the partridge with up to 20 eggs per clutch. The chickens also belonging to the bird species can even replenish the breed several times if the clutch is lost. However, the blue tit takes the top rank among the singing birds with eight to twelve eggs per clutch.
Bird eggs get their color mainly from two pigments. One is blue or greenish blue and, if present, colors the whole egg evenly (e.g. the sing throttle and the emu). The other is red-brown to black and usually covers only the egg with a thin layer on the surface (e.g. the reddish egg of the peregrine falcon).
In addition, the pigment is responsible for the shell drawing, the decoration of the egg, so to speak. In many bird species, the egg coloring serves as camouflage to protect against possible enemies. The plover’s eggs, which look like pebbles, are particularly impressive.
By the way, the egg (since 1996) has its own special day: The „World Egg Day“ takes place every year on the second Friday in October.
Eggs are not round, but oval, because they don’t roll off rocks when birds like the guillemot lay them. The eggs also roll in a circle and simply remain better on the storage location. Other advantages of the oval shape: They are narrower than balls and so easier to lay and can be lined up in the nest to save space. However, eggs are not always shaped the same way: there is a connection between the shape of the wing and the shape of the shell. Birds that can fly well usually have sharper eggs.
The color of the plumage has no influence on the color of the egg. Whether a hen lays brown or white eggs is genetic and therefore depends on the breed. The egg shell consists of 90 percent lime – and this is white.
What is the separation of protein and egg yolk good for? The egg yolk is the food for the chicks that have not yet hatched and is protected by an antibacterial layer, the protein. The small air chamber in the egg, which bursts when cooked, supplies the offspring with oxygen. The lime eggshell is created just before the eggs are laid.
By the way, you should not use a silver spoon eating boiled eggs, because the hydrogen sulfide from the protein reacts with silver to form silver sulfide. That colors the spoon black. The egg can also taste differently with a silver spoon: rather dull and metallic. A normal stainless steel spoon will do much better. I like to use small mother-of-pearl spoons.
There are egg collections consisting of many thousands eggs in several German museums. The Museum of Natural History in Berlin shows around 40,000 pieces. The largest egg collection in Germany is owned by the Alexander Koenig Zoological Research Museum in Bonn. Around 60,000 pieces are kept there. Furthermore you can admire more than 1,000 artistically decorated Easter eggs in Sonnenbühl near Reutlingen in Baden-Württemberg. The first German Easter Egg Museum is located there since 1993.
My personal tip for decoration – especially if it has to be quick: no matter whether you deal with real or artificial eggs, they look very elegant when sprayed with glossy varnish (completely or in part) in gold, silver, rose or copper.
Up to 500 million eggs are needed each year for VACCINE PRODUCTION worldwide, for example for yellow fever or flu vaccination: “More than 90 percent of the flu vaccine worldwide is produced with the help of eggs. One egg can usually be used to make a vaccine dose, sometimes a little more, “says the head of vaccine research at the World Health Organization.
Here’s how it works: Twice a year, experts from the WHO recommend which flu viruses should be cultivated for the coming season. These are then manufactured in selected laboratories and sent to vaccine factories. In the factories, virus particles are injected into the protein of eggs (those eggs are not commercially available, but rather produced in special farms under controlled conditions). Vaccine factories produce billions of copies of the virus in up to eleven days. Then the protein is sucked off and the virus particles are defused by heat and chemicals. The result is a harmless but effective vaccine.
However, the egg is a symbol of fertility and new life in most cultures. For centuries, the egg has therefore been part of Easter for Christians. In addition, many eggs used to accumulate during the lent. Because they were considered meat dishes, they were not allowed to be eaten again until Easter. Until then, they were preserved by cooking. In the Middle Ages, eggs were also a mode of payment. The farmers brought the so-called “interest eggs” to their feudal lords shortly before Easter. Eggs that were left over were ceremoniously eaten within the family or given away to friends for Easter.
Apart from ostrich eggs, I think that the little quail eggs are especially delicious; that’s why I’m looking forward to my maritime Good Friday favorite meal: Labskaus with quail eggs and fried apple potatoes with a little of beetroot … hmm.
We wish – in spite of all CORONA restrictions – a HAPPY EASTER SEASON & a maximum of health! ...By the way, this year I decided for an „Easter fountain“ as a home decoration. More information about this tradition and customs may be viewed here (in German): https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osterbrunnen
In Switzerland I once participated in putting together a giant Easter mosaic for the Guinness Book of Records … Eggs are simply all-round geniuses and omni-present.