Around the 19th day of incubation, the chick struggles for air by making thousands of strikes at the shell. This is called pipping.
On the 20th day, the pipping yields to a phase callled breakout, which starts when the punctures become cracks.
On the 20th day, the chick starts its dramatic entrance into a new world by destroying its old one.
On the 21st day, the chick drills a circle around the egg's circumference, twisting 360 within its prison.
Having broken open the egg top, the chick is so exhausted from its efforts, it can hardly move.
Fortinbras enters the fowl world, sopping wet. Note the pipping tooth -- an external shell-smashing tool at the tip of his beak. This will detach after a day or two.
Unlike most birds, chickens stagger to their feet on their first day of life. Fortinbras, now half dry, comes with an internal reserve of egg yolk that can sustain him for up to three days, without him needing to eat.
That doesn't mean he's not interested in poking for food on the second day after breakout. The tooth is still attached to his beak, serving no purpose at all.
For more by Steven Leigh Morris about chickens and chicken hatching, go to: www.laweekly.com/a-considerable-town/10998/chicken-hearted and
(More photos follow)
In his third day after hatching, Fortinbras is starting to grow wing-tip feathers. The hatching tooth has dis-attached, rather like children's baby teeth.
Side-view at 10 days.
10 days old, shoulder plates are sprouting. The gender is still impossible to determine from his appearance.
Top view at 10 days, including infant tail feathers.
Ratio of body weight to head gaining fast.
Three weeks old, first indication of his gender is in the size of his feet and hawk-like proportions. A female would be more rounded.
The second indication of his gender is the vertical bearing. At three weeks old, were he being raised as a fryer for the grocery store, he would have already lived out half his life.
At six weeks old, his gender is not even a question. The appearance of some chickens remains androgynous for up to three months.
Tufts of neck down at six weeks: the last vestiges of youth.
Fortinbras at six weeks. On a factory farm, he'd be ready for slaughter as a fryer. (The larger roasters live 12 weeks.) Fortinbras is now crowing out his days on a free-range farm in Lake Balboa.