Please, feel free to give your opinion.
*Update later that evening* Although it might seem I didn't take anyone's advice, I really appreciate your comments. Ultimately, even though I like the gap, I feel that my eye keeps being drawn to it and that it plays a stronger role in the "story" of the piece than feels appropriate. I'll save the gap in the egg idea for something else, and stick to my original intent of faithfully translating Louis Nicolas's drawings into stitch, and just keeping my own borders and such a bit more underplayed.
So, yes, I picked out the feathers and carefully handwashed the graphite tracing out. I will redraw the border a tiny bit bigger so the birds fit comfortably. And get it on grain this time. And thanks Deb, Deanna, Barb, and Val for helping me to think it through.