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Why Do Birds Throw Eggs Out Of Nest?

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why do birds throw eggs out of nest

Ever wondered why birds sometimes toss their own eggs out of the nest? It may seem counterintuitive, but this behavior is actually quite common among various bird species. By understanding the reasons behind this peculiar act, we can gain valuable insights into avian reproductive strategies.

Egg tossing serves as a survival mechanism for birds in certain situations. While it may appear wasteful, there are various reasons why birds engage in this behavior. Sometimes, an egg fails to hatch or is damaged, prompting the parent bird to remove it from the nest. This helps maintain a clean and healthy environment for the remaining eggs or chicks.

Exploring this intriguing behavior sheds light on the complexities of bird nesting and parental care. It demonstrates that nature’s reasoning doesn’t always align with human logic. So next time you encounter a bird throwing its own eggs away, remember that there might be more to it than meets the eye.

Now let’s delve deeper into these fascinating reasons and uncover why birds occasionally make such “eggstraordinary” decisions!

Reasons why do birds throw eggs out of nest

Some birds have a peculiar habit of throwing their eggs out of the nest. This seemingly counterintuitive behavior has puzzled researchers and bird enthusiasts alike. However, there are several reasons why birds engage in this egg-tossing behavior.

Protection from predators or parasites

One primary reason behind egg tossing is to protect offspring from potential threats like predators or parasites. By removing the eggs from the nest, the adult bird reduces the likelihood of attracting attention to their vulnerable young ones. Eggs left unattended can be easily detected by predators, leading to devastating consequences for the entire brood.

Intraspecies competition for resources

In some cases, egg tossing occurs due to intraspecies competition. Birds may throw out extra eggs as a means to ensure sufficient resources for surviving chicks. When food sources are limited, removing surplus eggs increases the chances of survival for the remaining offspring by reducing resource competition within the nest.

Environmental factors triggering egg-tossing

Extreme temperatures or inadequate nesting sites can trigger egg-tossing behavior in certain bird species. If a nest becomes too hot or cold, parents may discard some eggs to regulate temperature and safeguard those that remain. Similarly, if a nesting site proves unsuitable due to external disturbances or lack of protection, birds may resort to throwing out their eggs in search of a safer location.

Genetic predispositions and instinctual responses

Genetics and instinct also play a role in determining whether a bird will engage in egg-tossing behavior. Some species possess genetic predispositions that make them more likely to toss their eggs compared to others. Instinctual responses developed over generations influence this behavior as well.

While these reasons shed light on why birds throw their eggs out of nests, it’s important to remember that not all bird species exhibit this behavior. Each species has its own unique set of behaviors shaped by evolutionary factors and environmental pressures.

Mother Budgies Killing Their Babies

Female budgies, like many other bird species, are known to exhibit a surprising behavior – killing their own chicks. This phenomenon is often attributed to stress or lack of proper socialization, particularly among inexperienced or young mothers.

The presence of factors such as overcrowding, malnutrition, or perceived threats can contribute to infanticide by mother budgies. When the conditions in the nest become unfavorable, these birds may resort to extreme measures to ensure their own survival or that of their remaining offspring.

It is important to understand the underlying causes behind this behavior in order to prevent such occurrences and promote successful breeding among budgies. By addressing the root causes and providing appropriate care, we can increase the chances of healthy chicks thriving under the watchful eyes of their parents.

Stress and Lack of Socialization

One possible reason for mother budgies killing their babies is stress. Just like humans, birds experience stress too. In situations where they feel overwhelmed or threatened, adult birds may resort to eliminating some or all of their brood as a coping mechanism.

Moreover, young mothers who lack proper socialization might not possess the necessary skills to care for their offspring effectively. Without guidance from experienced adults within their flock, these inexperienced mothers may struggle with nurturing behaviors and inadvertently harm their young ones.

Overcrowding and Competition

Overcrowding within nests can also trigger infanticidal behavior in female budgies. When there is limited space available for nesting and raising offspring, adult birds may perceive it as a threat to their own survival. In such cases, they might eliminate weaker chicks or reduce competition by reducing the number of mouths they need to feed.

Furthermore, competition for resources like food and nesting materials can exacerbate aggression between adult birds within a confined space. This heightened aggression can lead to increased instances of infanticide as females attempt to secure resources for themselves and ensure the survival of stronger offspring.

Malnutrition and Lack of Resources

Inadequate nutrition is another factor that can contribute to mother budgies killing their babies. When adults are malnourished or unable to find sufficient food sources, they may prioritize their own survival over that of their offspring. This can result in the elimination of weaker chicks who require more resources to survive.

A scarcity of nesting materials or inadequate shelter can create an environment where females feel their offspring’s chances of survival are compromised. In such situations, mother birds may resort to infanticide as a means to ensure the survival of at least some of their brood.

Understanding the reasons behind why birds throw eggs out of nests is crucial for bird enthusiasts and breeders alike. By addressing factors such as stress, lack of socialization, overcrowding, malnutrition, and resource scarcity, we can help create an environment conducive to successful breeding among budgies. Providing ample space, appropriate nutrition, and opportunities for social interaction will not only prevent infanticidal behavior but also promote the well-being and thriving of these beautiful avian creatures.

Abandoned nests and what to do if you find bird eggs

Abandoned nests with eggs are not uncommon, especially during the early stages of incubation. It can be disheartening to come across a nest that appears abandoned, but it’s important to understand the reasons behind this behavior. Birds may abandon their nests for various reasons, such as disturbances by predators or unfavorable environmental conditions.

If you happen to stumble upon abandoned eggs, the general rule of thumb is to leave them undisturbed unless they are at risk of predation or environmental harm. While your instinct might be to intervene and try to save the eggs, it is crucial to consider the potential consequences of your actions.

Contacting local wildlife authorities or rescue organizations can provide guidance on appropriate actions regarding abandoned nests and eggs. These experts have the knowledge and experience necessary to assess the situation and offer advice tailored specifically for that species and nest location. They can help determine whether intervention is necessary or if it’s best to let nature take its course.

Attempting to hatch abandoned eggs without proper knowledge and resources can be detrimental both for you and the eggs themselves. Incubating bird eggs requires precise temperature control, humidity levels, and specialized equipment that most people don’t possess. Hatching abandoned eggs without expert guidance may lead to imprinting issues where birds become too reliant on humans instead of learning natural behaviors from their parents.

If you come across damaged eggs within an abandoned nest, it’s essential not to remove them immediately. Damaged eggs may still have a chance of survival depending on the extent of damage inflicted. In some cases, birds may continue incubating even with a few damaged eggs present in their nest.

On the other hand, finding healthy intact eggs in an abandoned nest raises different considerations. If there is a possibility of returning these healthy eggs back to an appropriate nesting location nearby, under expert supervision, this could increase their chances of survival.

why do birds throw eggs out of nest

Importance of nesting materials for birds

Nesting materials are essential for the well-being and survival of birds. They serve multiple purposes, including insulation, protection, and structural support for their nests. Different bird species have specific preferences which can greatly impact their breeding success and the survival rates of their offspring.

One crucial role of nesting materials is providing insulation. Birds use various natural resources such as twigs, leaves, grasses, feathers, moss, and even spider silk to create a cozy nest that helps regulate temperature. These materials act as a barrier against extreme weather conditions, keeping the eggs warm during cold spells and shielding them from excessive heat in scorching summers.

In addition to insulation, suitable nesting materials offer protection against predators. By carefully selecting sturdy twigs or branches as building blocks for their nests, birds create a safe haven where they can lay their eggs without fear of them being easily accessed or destroyed by potential threats. The structure and placement of the nest play a vital role in ensuring the safety of both parents and offspring.

Moreover, appropriate nesting materials contribute to the overall breeding success and survival rates of bird offspring. For instance, house sparrows prefer using dry grasses or straw to construct their nests. These materials provide a soft foundation for eggs while also allowing air circulation within the nest. This optimal environment promotes healthy embryo development and improves hatching success.

Providing artificial nesting materials can be beneficial in urban or suburban areas where natural resources may be limited. Birdhouses or nest boxes designed with suitable dimensions and entry holes mimic natural cavities that certain bird species seek out for nesting purposes. By offering these alternative options filled with appropriate nesting materials like wood shavings or sawdust, we can attract more birds to our surroundings.

Duration of egg incubation and unattended nests

The duration of egg incubation can vary significantly among bird species. While some eggs hatch within a few days, others require several weeks before the chicks emerge. This variation is influenced by factors such as the size of the eggs, metabolic rates of the parents, and environmental conditions.

During the incubation period, it is not uncommon for parent birds to leave their nests unattended. However, this does not necessarily mean that the nest has been abandoned. In many cases, parent birds temporarily leave their eggs to forage for food and replenish their energy reserves.

Leaving eggs unattended for short durations generally does not harm the developing embryos. Bird parents have evolved mechanisms to ensure that their eggs remain at an optimal temperature even when they are away. The shape and composition of the nest help retain heat or coolness, depending on external conditions.

Extended periods of absence by parent birds, however, can lead to abandonment and potential failure in hatching. If a nest remains unattended for too long, the developing embryos may be exposed to unfavorable conditions or predators. Without regular incubation from parents, the embryos may not receive the essential nutrients and oxygen required for proper development.

Birds have developed various strategies to minimize risks associated with leaving their nests unattended during incubation periods. Some species synchronize their breeding cycles with peak food availability to reduce the time spent away from their eggs. Others take turns incubating while one parent goes out to feed.

It’s fascinating how different bird species adapt their behavior based on environmental conditions and available resources. For example:

  • Penguins endure some of the longest incubation periods among birds. Emperor penguins take turns caring for their egg while enduring harsh Antarctic winters lasting up to 65 days.
  • Ostriches have one of the shortest incubation times relative to other large flightless birds like emus or rheas; they only need about 42 to 46 days.
  • Albatrosses have an incubation period that can last for up to 80 days. During this time, one parent remains at the nest while the other ventures out to sea in search of food.

Understanding the different incubation periods and behaviors of bird species provides valuable insights into their survival strategies. It highlights how they have adapted over millions of years to ensure successful reproduction despite environmental challenges.

Intraspecies competition and egg-throwing behavior

Intraspecies competition occurs when individuals of the same species compete for limited resources within their environment. This intense rivalry can manifest in various ways, including aggressive territorial disputes or even the peculiar behavior of egg-throwing among certain bird species.

Egg-throwing behavior can be seen as an adaptive strategy employed by some birds to ensure sufficient resources for their own offspring. Competition for nesting sites, food availability, or mate selection can trigger this intriguing phenomenon. By removing infertile eggs or those that are less likely to hatch successfully, birds increase the chances of survival and breeding success for their remaining brood.

Understanding the dynamics of intraspecies competition is essential in comprehending the complexities of avian reproductive behaviors. Birds face numerous challenges in their quest to reproduce and raise offspring successfully. Predation is a constant threat, and by eliminating vulnerable eggs from the nest, birds reduce the risk of attracting predators to their nesting site.

Different species of birds exhibit varying degrees of egg rejection behavior. For instance, some avian species may only remove infertile eggs while others go as far as removing perfectly healthy ones if they perceive a shortage of resources. This natural behavior showcases how birds assess environmental conditions and make calculated decisions to maximize their reproductive success.

The act of egg tossing also highlights the importance of energy conservation for these animals. By investing time and energy into raising only viable offspring, birds optimize their efforts and allocate resources more efficiently. This ensures that they can provide adequate care and attention to each surviving chick without spreading themselves too thin.

Furthermore, intraspecies competition plays a crucial role in shaping not just individual reproductive strategies but also broader ecological dynamics within an ecosystem. The struggle for limited resources drives evolutionary adaptations among predator-prey relationships, influencing population sizes and overall biodiversity.


In conclusion, the behavior of birds throwing eggs out of their nests can have significant impacts on bird populations. This behavior is often driven by various factors such as intraspecies competition and the need for nesting materials. However, it can also result in abandoned nests and the unfortunate killing of baby birds by their own mothers.

When you come across abandoned nests or find bird eggs, it is important to handle them with care and avoid disturbing them unnecessarily. Providing nesting materials in your backyard can help support bird populations and reduce the likelihood of egg-tossing behavior.

Understanding the duration of egg incubation and the risks associated with unattended nests can also aid in preventing this behavior. By being aware of these factors, you can take appropriate measures to protect bird eggs and promote successful breeding.

It is crucial to remember that each species may exhibit different behaviors. Therefore, educating yourself about specific bird species prevalent in your area can be beneficial in preventing this behavior.

By implementing prevention strategies and creating a suitable environment for birds, we can contribute to maintaining healthy bird populations. Encouraging others to do the same will help preserve our avian friends for generations to come.


Can I touch or move abandoned bird eggs?

It is generally best not to touch or move abandoned bird eggs unless necessary. If you believe there may be a risk to the eggs (e.g., predators nearby), consult local wildlife authorities for guidance.

How long does it take for birds’ eggs to hatch?

The duration of egg incubation varies depending on the species of bird. It can range from a few days to several weeks. Researching specific species will give you a better understanding of their incubation period.

What should I do if I find an abandoned nest?

If you discover an abandoned nest, leave it undisturbed whenever possible. Many birds reuse nests, so it is best to avoid interfering unless there is a clear need for intervention.

How can I provide nesting materials for birds in my backyard?

You can offer various nesting materials such as twigs, grass, and leaves by creating a designated area or providing birdhouses with suitable bedding. This will attract birds and encourage them to build nests in your yard.

What are some signs of intraspecies competition among birds?

Signs of intraspecies competition may include aggressive behaviors, territorial disputes, and attempts to destroy other birds’ nests or eggs. Providing adequate resources like food and nesting sites can help minimize competition.

Are all bird species prone to egg-tossing behavior?

While egg-tossing behavior is observed in various bird species, its prevalence differs among different groups. Some species are more likely to exhibit this behavior due to specific environmental or genetic factors.

Can egg-tossing behavior be completely eliminated?

Completely eliminating egg-tossing behavior may be challenging since it is influenced by natural instincts and environmental factors. However, implementing prevention strategies can significantly reduce its occurrence.

How can I contribute to bird conservation efforts?

You can support bird conservation efforts by creating bird-friendly habitats in your backyard, participating in citizen science projects, advocating for habitat preservation, and spreading awareness about the importance of birds in our ecosystems.

Where can I find more information about specific bird species and their behaviors?

Local wildlife organizations, online resources dedicated to ornithology (the study of birds), and field guides specific to your region are excellent sources for detailed information on different bird species and their behaviors.

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