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Nest Eggs

Jun 17, 2019

Bird eggs sport an amazing variety of sizes, colors, and shapes. Their colors could fill an artist’s palette, from robin's egg blue to a buffy pink, from purple to green. When birds commonly nest in the open, their eggs may be blotched, spotted, speckled, marbled, streaked or scrawled to match their surroundings and protect them from predators. Killdeer often lay their eggs on pebbles and these are perfect rock imitations. Cavity dwellers lay pure white eggs. Camouflage is not important when the eggs are hidden in a hole. Also the parents may better see eggs in the darkness. Birds that never leave their nests like Great Blue Herons often have pure white eggs too.

Peregrine falcons nest on cliff edges and their eggs are especially pointed on one end. That way, if an egg begins to roll, it will go around in circles rather than rolling straight over the edge. Bobwhite quail eggs are pointed. Since there are so many eggs in a clutch, the pointed shape helps to fit more eggs in the nest like a jigsaw puzzle.

Cowbirds will lay their eggs into the nests of other birds to foster their young. They have done this to over 200 species of birds. Often the female cowbird will sneak into the nest when the mother is away, move or damage some eggs in the nest, and then lay her own. Cowbird eggs usually hatch first and the chicks grow quickly, enabling them to outcompete the host's chicks. There's a theory that the blue hue of eggs helps host birds pick out foreign eggs placed in their nests. According to NestWatch, some birds like the yellow warbler catch on to the deception in their nests. They may choose to build on top of the infiltrated nest. Cowbirds may in turn destroy the nest in retaliation for failing to raise their young. See a nest raid in the video below

Common Bird Questions

  • Why aren’t there any birds at my feeder? An absence of feeder birds may be due to an abundance of natural foods. Or sometimes seeds become spoiled or lack “hearts” due to poor development or weevils. Also, the feeder may be contaminated. Wash your feeder and try seed from a different source. Place the feeder so it is not vulnerable to predators.
  • When should I put up and take down my hummingbird feeder? Most hummingbirds arrive at the end of April. Although some arrive earlier in southern Missouri, and most depart around early October. A hummingbird feeder can be placed anytime during that period. Most hummers occur in Missouri during the spring and fall migratory periods. September is typically the most satisfying month to feed hummers. There is no evidence that feeding delays their migration progress in the fall.
  • What do I do with the young bird I see out of its nest? Leave it alone and keep pets away. Most young birds leave the nest well before they are able to fly. Their parents, who may be rarely seen, will return as needed to feed them. Not only is picking up the bird a violation, it disrupts the bird’s opportunity to learn survival skills. On the rare occasions that a featherless young is found on the ground, an effort should be made to replace it in its nest. If a nest has fallen, fasten it in a tree near to where it was found. Birds don’t have highly developed senses of smell, so touching the bird is not a problem.

Discover more bird tips.

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cowbird egg in dickcissel nest
Brown cowbird egg in dickcissel nest

Brown-headed Cowbird - Laying an egg in a Northern Cardinal nest - NestCams.org

Brown-headed Cowbird lays egg in Northern Cardinal nest in this video by Nestcams.org
Brown-headed Cowbird lays egg in Northern Cardinal nest in this video by Nestcams.org

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