Can Bird Eggs Hatch Without Mother

Can Bird Eggs Hatch Without Mother

Sometimes birds leave eggs in nests, but they haven’t abandoned it at all. Typically, if you see a nest that has eggs inside, there’s a parent somewhere nearby to keep an eye on the young.

Intriguingly, birds don’t need to incubate immediately after laying, and they can leave for short periods. Can bird eggs hatch without a mother?

Bird eggs can hatch without a mother bird so the nest may not be abandoned. Father birds often sit on eggs to incubate them once the very last egg has been laid, and they don’t need a mate to accomplish the hatching. Some birds will put their eggs in the nests of other birds forcing them to do the mother’s job.

Can Eggs Hatch Without Mother

Most of the time, mother birds incubate and hatch their eggs. Although, in many cases, the female birds share the warming duties with males. Furthermore, in some instances, the males do the incubation.

Emperor penguins are a great example of baby birds hatching without their mothers.

As National Geographic explains, “Male emperors keep the newly laid eggs warm, but they do not sit on them, as many other birds do. Males stand and protect their eggs from the elements by balancing them on their feet and covering them with feathered skin known as a brood pouch.”

The extreme climate means that male emperors need to be especially careful as it only takes a few seconds for the egg to get too cold for survival.

However, this extreme example isn’t the only species where father birds take on incubation duties. Cassowary males also incubate eggs without their mates, and mountain plovers will sit on their mate’s first clutch, though she may need to hatch the second batch without him.

Can You Hatch Abandoned Bird Eggs

You can hatch viable and legal abandoned bird eggs. Sadly, if they aren’t alive, then there’s nothing you can do to make them hatch.

Moreover, it’s vital to ensure the eggs have legitimately been abandoned first. Parents may not start incubating until days after the first egg is laid.

It is essential to understand that there’s a difference between incubating domestic chickens, geese, or ducks, for example, as opposed to wild bird eggs.

If you find genuinely abandoned wild eggs, they need to go to a licensed animal rehabilitation expert for incubation. Unfortunately, they may only accept eggs that are from endangered species.

While it may seem cruel, it’s not worth the risk. It is illegal to possess or even disturb wild bird eggs under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which exists to protect wild species in their natural habitats.

How Long Can A Bird Egg Live Without Warmth

How long a bird egg can live without warmth depends significantly on the weather. Penguin eggs are a lost cause, but most northern bird species are more likely to last.

Plus, birds in North America don’t tend to lay eggs late enough in the season to worry about freezing.

In general, a bird’s egg that is abandoned can last at least a week without warmth from its parent or an artificial incubator. Some species can make it up to two weeks.

However, it’s unlikely the baby inside can successfully form beyond fourteen days, even with perfect incubation.

How Long Can Bird Eggs Be Left Unattended

Bird eggs are okay for days unattended. They will keep for one to two weeks if the weather isn’t freezing or excessively hot.

Don’t worry too much if you’ve scared away a mother bird by accident. She will stay in the area most of the time until you leave, and then she’ll take up her post as a living incubator again when she feels safe.

What To Do With Abandoned Bird Eggs

If you find abandoned domestic bird eggs like farm birds, you can collect them. Incubation is an option if you have the right machinery.

Alternatively, you can save them to make an omelet or a cake. If the eggs belong to wild birds, you need special permits to collect them or even disturb the nest, so leave them alone.

Why Do Birds Abandon Their Nests With Eggs

There are several reasons a bird might abandon their nest. For one, an injured bird may not be able to fly home. Similarly, they get eaten by predators and have accidents, but other things can happen.

Sometimes humans disturb the bird making them feel unsafe. Too many visits or getting too close can cause a bird to fly away, though they often return.

Sadly, too many trips to your local bird nests also leaves a scent trail, and curious predators may follow and find the birds, eating or scaring them out of the nest.

Can Pigeon Eggs Hatch Without Mother

You can hatch pigeon eggs in an incubator without the mother. However, like most, this species has specific needs. You should keep pigeon eggs at 60 percent humidity and between 98.6 and 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit (37.2-37.5 Celsius).

Most pigeons use the same nesting site repeatedly instead of building anew. However, encroachment on their territory by humans or predatory animals like cats can lead to abandoned nests.

Helpful Tips To Know If Bird Eggs Can Hatch Without Mother

Hatching bird eggs with an incubator takes a lot of care, which isn’t always easy. However, it is worth the effort to hatch baby birds with no mother.

There are other ways for motherless eggs to hatch, like when the father sits on them instead, but they always need warmth.

Here are more helpful tips to know if bird eggs can hatch without a mother.

  • Sometimes birds harass other birds causing them to abandon a nest. Owls and crows, in particular, have a deep, ingrained hatred for each other and will try and kill one another if they discover they’re sharing territory.
  • Incubating birds typically takes around twenty-one days to use a machine, though it can vary slightly by species.
  • It would be best to have an adjustable heat lamp or incubator to hatch bird eggs at home. Different species require various temperatures and levels of humidity to remain viable.
  • One of the easiest ways to see if a bird egg is viable is to hold it up to bright light. You will see veins and sometimes even be able to watch the outline of the baby bird inside if it’s far enough along in its development.

Final Thoughts

Bird eggs don’t need the specific genetic female that laid them to hatch. Male birds can incubate, and so can other females and even other species if necessary.

Moreover, humans hatch bird eggs all the time, though we can’t sit on them the way a hollow-boned bird can, nor do humans insulate with feathers.

An electric incubator or adjustable heat lamp is perfectly capable of providing the necessary warmth to help the eggs along until the babies inside are ready to emerge.

However, eggs that are abandoned in nature won’t hatch on their own.

Ted Smith

My name is Ted Smith and I’m the creator of I have a passion for educating people about animals and wildlife. I have been working with the National Wildlife Federation for the past 10 years and I became a wildlife blogger to help people become excited about animals and encouraged to care for these wonderful creatures.

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