How Long Do Bird Eggs Take to Hatch?

Are you curious about the hatching process of bird eggs and wonder, how long do bird eggs take to hatch? It’s a natural process in the animal world, the wild bird world to be specific, and most of us are awed when we see those tiny beaks breaking through their shells.

Here’s the short answer, my friend. The incubation period varies quite a bit depending on the species of bird, although in general, the incubation time for wild birds is between 10 and 14 days for the smaller species, and up to a month for larger birds.

We’ve compiled all the information you need to know about how long it takes different types of birds’ eggs to hatch. Plus, we’ll answer some of the common questions about bird eggs, the incubation period, and what happens after they hatch.

Whether you’re a birder or just interested in these amazing creatures, we have the answers here, my friend.

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What Does a Bird Egg Consist of?

what does a bird egg consist of

Bird eggs essentially have 3 parts:

1. Exterior or shell – This is a protective outer layer that covers the egg and prevents moisture from escaping, protecting the growing embryo inside.

2. Middle Layer- Also known as the albumen, it is made up of several layers of thick fluid which hold the yolk in place while adding additional support to keep it safe during incubation.

3. Interior or yolk – This is a large yellow mass that contains all the nutrients required for an embryo to develop, known as the germinal disc.

What Are the Colors of Bird Eggs?

Eggs come in various colors depending on the species, but some types of birds lay white or pale blue eggs. The color varies according to the bird’s environment and camouflage purposes to protect their nests against predators.

However, you might find exceptions if you look closely at the nests of different bird species.

Some bird eggs are beautifully colored.  Take, for example, the duck-billed platypus, which lays white eggs while the mother incubates them; but when they hatch, they’re pink!

Some bird eggs are blue. Most birds’ eggs are white or tan in color because of the pigment protoporphyrin, but blue eggs are caused by a chemical called biliverdin. Biliverdin is related to the bile pigment bilirubin, which causes the yellowing of bruises or an older person’s skin. Birds that lay blue eggs include American robins, blue jays, song thrushes, and the common grackle.

What Happens When a Baby Bird Hatches From Its Egg?

When a baby bird hatches from its egg, it needs warmth and care from its mother in order to survive. The baby bird may stay in the nest for a few hours until it becomes more mature, learning how to eat and drink before it can fly away.

Baby birds that have just been born are called hatchlings, and this stage of their life lasts about three days. They eat and sleep, their eyes are closed, and in many instances, they have no feathers.

Some babies are born with some parts of their feathers, such as down feathers which keep them warm, while other parts such as flight feathers will develop as they grow.

Do Birds Build Their Own Nests?

Some birds will build a nest on their own, or choose a specific location to lay their eggs. Other species of birds may use abandoned nests from other animals such as a squirrel’s nest, while some species of birds will not build a nest at all and will lay the eggs directly onto the ground.

Why do some birds lay eggs in other birds’ nests?

Some birds, called brood parasites, choose to place their eggs in the nests of other species of birds to hatch and raise. The brown-headed cowbird is native to North America and is a brood parasite.

How Long Do Bird Eggs Take to Hatch?

The incubation period is different for every type of bird and can be affected by several factors.

Here’s a list of how long it takes for a bird egg to hatch.

1. 11-16 days – The incubation period for small birds is between 11 and 16 days, depending on the species.

2. 15-20 days – Large birds will incubate for about 15 to 20 days for their eggs.

3. 21-28 days – Waterfowl have an incubation period of about 21 to 28 days, which is long due to their habitat.

4. 24-25 days – Ostriches have an incubation period of roughly 24 to 25 days.

5. 26-27 days – Emus eggs will incubate for roughly 26 to 27 days.

6. 12-20 weeks – Some types of birds have an even longer incubation period, such as the albatross which takes up to 3 months, and others like the megapodes take up to 9 weeks.

Which Bird Has the Shortest Incubation Period?

Zosterops, the White-eye or Silver-eye bird, has attained worldwide fame for the shortest period of any bird, about 11 days. The silvereye is found throughout New Zealand; the white-eye is found on the Indian subcontinent.

In general, small perching birds have short gestation periods of about 13 to 15 days.

Which Bird Has the Longest Incubation Period?

The northern royal albatross has a long incubation period which can take up to 80 days. The mates will nest in early November and one egg will be produced per pair, about three weeks later.

The parent birds will share incubation duties until the chick is hatched in late January or early February.

How Do Baby Birds Hatch From the Egg?

When it is time for the eggs to hatch, the baby bird will use a special muscle called the egg tooth (a sharp, horn-like projection on the top beak or bill) to break out of its shell.

The parents will feed the hatchling regurgitated food because baby birds do not have an adult digestive system, intestines, or liver.


Do birds sit on their eggs all the time?

Most bird species will rely on their mate to be responsible for the incubation period, but there are some birds that will sit on their eggs all day long. A bird’s body temperature is roughly 100 degrees higher than a human’s body temperature.

Can bird eggs hatch without the mother?

If a bird egg has been abandoned by its mother, or something has happened to the mother bird, it may be possible for the egg to hatch.  A fertilized egg will become a chick, but you need to provide the warmth and food necessary for it to survive.

How long will baby birds stay in the nest?

A baby chick will spend different amounts of time in the nest before it can fly. Depending on the type of bird, they will stay in the nest anywhere from a few days to several months.

How long does it take for baby birds to grow their feathers?

Once baby birds hatch, they will begin growing their feathers and eventually be able to fly.

Small birds such as zebra finches and canaries may only need about one week for those feathers to completely grow in. Large birds require around two months, but this time period may vary depending on the individual bird’s species and size.

How long after eggs hatch do birds fly?

After the eggs hatch, small birds such as zebra finches and canaries may only need about one week for their wings to develop.

Large birds in the eagle family, like hawks or eagles, will require around six weeks before they are ready to fly.

Fledglings typically perch on branches until they are ready to fly, which means the fledglings are not able to leave the nest until their wings develop.

Keeping babies in a nest for an extended period of time will give them the best chance at survival because they will be stronger before leaving home.

Conclusion: How Long Does It Take Bird Eggs to Hatch?

Birds are so fascinating and their birth story is amazing to many people. The incubation period for bird eggs varies across different types, but it typically takes about 14 days for small birds like canaries or zebra finches. 

For large birds such as hawks or eagles, the incubation period may take up to six weeks before they’re ready to fly.  It’s important that baby birds stay in the nest long enough because this will help them grow stronger before leaving home!