Reading Rainbow

Season 5 Episode 3

Chickens Aren't the Only Ones

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Aired Weekdays 2:30 PM Jun 24, 1987 on PBS

Episode Recap

In this episode, LeVar is an investigative reporter live on location on the farm for E.G.G.-TV. He is trying to find the answer to that age-old question: "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" He tries interviewing some roosters, but it seems they have nothing to say. LeVar tries asking some hens the question. This question isn't egg-xactly easy to answer. There can be more than one answer to it.

LeVar receives a late-breaking story: Chickens Aren't the Only Ones. This book, narrated by Georgia Engel, shows that chickens aren't the only ones who lay eggs. All other birds lay eggs too. The ostrich lays the biggest eggs in the world, and the hummingbird lays the smallest. Birds aren't the only animals that lay eggs. Reptiles such as snakes and turtles also lay them. Even dinosaurs from millions of years before laid eggs too. The book, which is told in rhyme, shows other kinds of species who are egg layers. Animals who don't lay eggs, but give milk to their young, are called mammals.

LeVar states that chickens aren't the only ones who do all the egg laying. He is in an incubator room where he is surrounded by dozens of chicken eggs. They're not the kinds of eggs you eat for breakfast. Those eggs are the ones which will hatch into little baby chicks. When the mother hen sits on the egg to hatch it, she continuely turns the egg with her foot to keep the yolk from sticking inside the shell. In the incubator, the eggs are kept inside at 99 degrees for almost 20 days before they're hatched. The machine rotates around to perform the same action of the mother hen. It's almost like they are still under their mother. LeVar receives another late-breaking report that's about to break open. The story/song called "I'm Breakin' Out" is about a chick who's going to hatch right out of his egg shell and see the world.

LeVar is investigating at a beach in Florida where something can break out at any given moment. For his egg-sclusive evening report, he is going to whitness loggerhead sea turtles laying their eggs and burying them in the sand. LeVar interviews with Dr. Lou Airheart who is a turtle biologist. Lou and LeVar get an up-close look at a loggerhead turtle as she lays her eggs. LeVar claims he has never been close to a sea turtle before. When a turtle lays eggs, she raises her flippers to let you know she's having her babies. The eggs are about the of a ping-pong ball. A seaturtle can lay as many as 150 eggs in one day. The loggerhead turtle covers the eggs with sand to keep them safe. She uses her flippers just like human hands. As she covers her eggs, she blends her nest in with the sand to keep others from taking her eggs away. For a sea turtle, swimming can be very tiring with so much weight. Turtle eggs that are to hatch have to go on without any parental guidance. It would take several weeks for the eggs to hatch. Once the baby seaturtles have hatched, they go off into the ocean and swim out as far as they can. Lou and LeVar set a baby seaturtle free out into the sea, ready for him to start a new life.

LeVar's investigation has taken him, and the viewers, to some very interesting places. Books are good places to find lots of information, as well as some good stories. One book reviewer talks about a science book entitled Egg to Chick. It tells you egg-xactly how an egg hatches to produce a new baby chick. The next reviewer discusses a book called Mrs. Huggins and Her Hen Hannah. This book is about two special friendships. Mrs. Huggins has a hen named Hannah. They do many fun things together. When her best friend Hannah dies, Mrs. Huggins discovers a whole new friend. The last reviewer asks the viewers a riddle. The riddle is about turtles, and that's what the book is called: Turtle and Tortoise. It tells you about all the different turtles and tortoises there are in the world.

Back in the incubator room, LeVar is hearing a lot of cheeping going on. The eggs have hatched! All the little chicks are ready to see the world. For as long as people have been asking "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?", they have also said that you shouldn't count your chickens until they hatch. There are just too many chicks to count. It seems that we never got to find the answer to that old-aged question. That's because some questions have more than one answer, and those answers can lead to even more questions. LeVar wonders which came first, the question or the answer. That may be another subject for his next report for E.G.G.-TV. The show ends with a reprise of the song, "I'm Breakin' Out", accompanied by looks at some of the chickens that have hatched.
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