How Long Does It Take For Bird Eggs to Hatch?

The time it takes for a bird egg to hatch depends on many factors, such as the temperature and humidity in which the egg is kept, as well as the size and type of the egg itself.

Bird Eggs Hatch Time Depends on the Size and Species of the Bird

Most birds sit on their eggs for 19 to 21 days before they hatch, but there are major exceptions to this rule.

Some small birds sit on their eggs for less than two weeks.

A warbler called the lesser whitethroat that ranges across most of Europe and an endangered species of shore lark on the eastern shores of England and Scotland hatch their eggs just 10 days after they lay them.

At the opposite extreme, the Guinness Book of World Records reports an observation of an egg of a mallee fowl that took 90 days to hatch.

Some other large birds sit on their eggs for more than two months. The royal Aabatross sits on its egg for 75 to 81 days, and the wandering albatross incubates its egg (it usually lays just one) for 75 to 82 days.

Female kiwis usually sit on a single massive egg for about 84 days.

All of the large, flightless birds lay large eggs that take weeks to hatch.

Rhea eggs take 29 to 43 days to hatch. Ostriches sit on their eggs for 35 to 45 days. Cassowary eggs need 50 days to hatch.

In this article, we will tell you about the hatching times for different kinds of birds you may keep as pets or encounter on the birdwatching trail.

But first, we will explain why birds sit on their eggs.

Why Do Birds Sit on Their Eggs?

Eggs form inside the mother bird after mating. In most species, the female bird releases an egg from its left ovary that is fertilized by its mate’s sperm.

It takes about a day for the mother bird to produce a small bird, but some birds that lay large eggs, like kiwis, may need several weeks.

Birds usually lay just one egg a day.

A newly laid egg contains a developing embryo. Membranes on and inside the shell keep the egg from drying out, and protect it from bacteria.

Heat activates enzymes that fight infection, so mother birds often will sit on their eggs at night before they start incubating them full-time.

Some birds that live in the tropics, like the megapodes of Australia and New Guinea, simply lay their eggs in sand or in a mound of warm earth and let Mother Nature take care of them.

Bird eggs come in extreme sizes. A hummingbird egg doesn’t weigh as much as a paper clip.

The extinct elephant bird laid an egg that weighed nearly 10 pounds (4.5 kg), over 10,000 times the size of a hummingbird egg. Larger eggs need longer incubation time.

As the bird inside the egg develops bones, it feeds on the calcium in its eggshell.

At the end of its development, the shell is so thin that it is easy for the bird to peck its way out.

Some birds lay clutches of eggs that hatch synchronously, all at the same time.

The mother bird times hatching by not sitting on the eggs until the last egg is laid.

Other birds lay eggs that hatch asynchronously, one after another. These birds usually start sitting on the first egg in a clutch before the last egg is laid.

Now let’s take a look at hatching times for some kinds of birds you probably know.

Hatching Times for Different Kinds of Birds

If you are looking for the hatching time for eggs laid by a pet bird, remember a basic fact of biology: Only fertilized eggs hatch.

A female bird you keep by itself may lay eggs, but if a male has not fertilized them, they will not hatch.

Bird SpeciesEgg Hatch Time
African Gray Parrot Eggs24 to 30 days
American Red Robin Eggs14 days
Barn Owl Eggs29 to 34 days
Eastern Bluebird Eggs11 to 19 days
Western Bluebird Eggs12 to 17 days
Chicken Eggs21 days
Muscovy Duck EggsWithin 24 hours
Mockingbird Eggs11 to 14 days
Parakeet (also known as Budgie or Budgerigar) Eggs14 days (can take up to 23 days)
Canary Eggs14 days
Emu Eggs56 days
King Penguin Eggs55 days
Pigeon Eggs18-20 days
Bald Eagle Eggs35 to 37 days

Hatching Time for African Gray Parrot Eggs

African gray parrots can reproduce in captivity, but they instinctively need a mate to carry out their parenting duties once their eggs are hatched.

African gray parrots lay two or three eggs that take 24 to 30 days to hatch.

Hatching Time for American Red Robin Eggs

In North America, red robins aren’t shy about building nests where humans can easily find them.

If you see red robins in your backyard regularly in early summer, chances are that you can also find their nest in the fork of a tree or in thick shrubbery. But don’t disturb it!

Robins lay clutches of three to five blue eggs. Featherless chicks with their eyes closed hatch about 14 days later, and are ready to leave the nest 14 days after that.

Hatching Time for Barn Owl Eggs

You may never see a barn owl, but you will probably hear them. Barn owls prey on rodents at night, and retreat to their nests during the day.

Female barn owls lay four to seven eggs at a time, incubating them for 29 to 34 days. Both the male and the female raise the chicks.

Hatching Time for Bluebird Eggs

You aren’t likely to see bluebird eggs unless you know where to look for them.

Bluebirds like to lay their eggs in the cavities of older trees, lining their nests with hair, feathers, and soft dry grass.

A female bluebird lays three to seven eggs. Eastern bluebird eggs take 11 to 19 days to hatch, while Western bluebird eggs hatch in 12 to 17 days.

Also read: Bluebird vs Blue Jay — What’s the Difference?

Hatching Time for Chicken Eggs

Chicken eggs incubate for 21 days, plus or minus a few hours.

During this time, the mother hen keeps the egg warm, turning it to make sure the entire shell is gently heated.

Mother hens do not usually start sitting on their eggs until 11 or 12 eggs are laid, so all of the chicks hatch at about the same time.

If you buy chicks as pets, remember that hatcheries do not usually give them food or water, so they will be both hungry and thirsty by the time you get them.

Hatching Time for Muscovy Duck Eggs

Many ducks are extremely unreliable for sitting on their eggs until they hatch.

Muscovy ducks, a large species native to South Texas and Latin America, are an exception to the rule.

If you raise ducks in the United States, chances are that you have a Muscovy duck.

After mating, the mother Muscovy duck lays 8 to 16 eggs. Laying the eggs may take as long as three weeks.

When the female lays the last egg in her clutch, she begins sitting on them for 22 to 23 hours a day.

She takes short breaks to find food and water and to defecate. The clutch of eggs all hatch within 24 hours, and the mother duck raises them for about a month.

Also read: How to Take Care of Pet Duck? All You Need to Know!

Hatching Time for Mockingbird Eggs

It is usually easy to find a mockingbird’s nest. They build cup-shaped nests on top of prickly shrubs or in small trees.

Mockingbirds raise two or three broods of three to five chicks throughout the summer.

Mockingbird eggs require 11 to 14 days to hatch. As soon as one brood is out of the nest, the parents will usually try again, unless it is time to fly away for the winter.

Hatching Time for Parakeet (also known as Budgie or Budgerigar) Eggs

Parakeets lay clutches of four to six eggs every other day for about two weeks.

The eggs usually take 14 days to hatch, but sometimes the chick will need as long as 23 days to develop. Eggs that do not hatch in 24 days are probably dead.

The chicks in a clutch of parakeet eggs do not all hatch at the same time, so the fifth and sixth chicks to come out of the shell may need protection to keep from getting trampled by their older siblings.

Also read: Parakeet vs Parrotlet – What’s the Difference?

Hatching Time for Canary Eggs

Pet canaries can mate. The female can lay three to five and sometimes six eggs, one egg every morning until the clutch is complete.

The eggs will hatch in about 14 days. It is important to keep the hatchlings with both parents to ensure they get fed.

Also read: Canary vs. Parakeet- What’s the Difference?

Hatching Time for Emu Eggs

Emus are popular pet birds for people who have the outdoor space to keep them. It’s not hard to get more emus if you have a mating pair. The female lays 11 to 20 eggs in a single clutch.

In this species, it is the male that sits on the eggs to incubate them, losing as much as 20 percent of its body weight from hunger and dehydration while performing parental duties.

Baby emus don’t emerge from the egg for eight weeks (56 days).

Hatching Time for King Penguin Eggs

On the lookout for baby penguins at the zoo?

King penguins lay a single large egg every spring. They don’t build nests. Instead, they carry it inside a brood pouch in their feet.

Incubation usually takes 55 days.

Once the baby penguin has come out of its shell, the colony of penguins forms a kind of kindergarten where a few adults look after the young while the others go fishing to feed them.

Hatching Time for Pigeon Eggs

Pigeons build flimsy nests in which the female lays one or two eggs at a time.

These unpopular birds breed all year round. Their eggs take about 18 days to hatch, up to 20 days in mid-winter.

Be aware that the male will patrol the area to guard the nest.

Also read: 14 Ways to Get Rid of Pigeons (that work)

Hatching Time for Bald Eagle Eggs

It is impossible to miss a bald eagle’s huge nest, known as an aerie. But chances are you won’t be climbing up to it to inspect its eggs!

Bald eagles lay one to three eggs at a time. Incubation takes about seven weeks, 35 to 37 days.

Bald eagles typically return to the same nesting site every year. Even if their nest falls down or is disturbed, they will replace it in the same location.

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