Birds on the Move: Exploring the Incredible Nesting Behavior of Avian Parents

Are you captivated by the hidden world of birds and their extraordinary abilities? Have you ever pondered the possibility of birds moving their precious eggs between nests? In this captivating article, we delve into the fascinating nesting behavior of birds to uncover the truth behind their egg-moving skills.

The Nesting Process

Birds are truly marvelous creatures, and the way they construct their nests is nothing short of fascinating! Nest-building is their unique way of creating a cozy home for their eggs and chicks.

So how do they go about it? First, birds carefully select a safe and secluded spot for their nest, be it in a tree, on a ledge, or on the ground. Once they have found the perfect location and gathered their materials, they proceed to build a solid foundation using twigs and sticks. They then add softer materials like leaves, grass, and even their own feathers to make the nest comfortable. These nests provide warmth and security, serving as superhero homes for their little ones to grow and hatch.

Observations and Anecdotes

Observing bird behavior is a truly fascinating experience. These small and tireless creatures gather twigs, leaves, and even bits of string, working together to create a safe haven for their eggs. Witnessing their communication and cooperation in building their nests is nothing short of marvelous.

Bird behavior spans far beyond the common sparrows and crows we encounter daily. Countless species exhibit unique traits and behaviors. The brilliant blue jay, for example, cleverly hides its food in various places, remembering each hiding spot. Swans, known for their grace, fiercely protect their nests and eggs. The intellect and diversity of birds never fail to astonish us.

How Do Birds Move Their Eggs?

Birds possess fascinating methods to move their eggs when necessary. One intriguing technique they employ is called “egg-rolling.” Plovers and lapwings, known for their shallow ground nests, protect their eggs from predators and harsh weather by gently nudging or rolling them with their beaks. This allows them to shift the eggs to a safer position within the nest, ensuring the safety of their precious cargo.

Another remarkable method employed by some birds is “egg-carrying.” Birds like the Guira cuckoo have specially adapted bills that enable them to carry their eggs one by one. In shared nests, adult birds take turns carrying the eggs, ensuring warmth and safety for their developing chicks. It’s like having a built-in egg transport system!

In a truly unique example, male emus, large flightless birds from Australia, play a significant role in egg transport. After the female emu lays her eggs, the male emu takes charge of incubating them. For about 8 weeks, the male emu sits on the eggs, sacrificing food and drink. The soft feathers on its belly provide warmth, ensuring the proper development of the eggs until they hatch. It’s an incredible adaptation that guarantees the survival of the next generation.

Reasons Behind Egg Movement

While eggs may often seem stationary in their nests, there are fascinating reasons behind why they are sometimes moved. Let’s explore some triggers that might prompt birds to relocate their eggs:

  • Protection from Predators: Birds frequently move their eggs to safeguard them from hungry predators such as squirrels, snakes, and other animals who see them as a tasty meal.
  • Temperature Control: Eggs function as blankets for baby birds. By moving them, parents can regulate the temperature, keeping them warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather.
  • Nest Maintenance: Birds sometimes need to tidy up their nests, rearranging eggs to repair the nest or removing old and broken shells to keep it clean and cozy.
  • Changing Weather: Birds possess an innate sense for detecting changes in weather. If they sense an incoming storm or strong winds, they may move their eggs to a safer spot, shielding them from potential harm.
  • Avoiding Crowded Nests: A crowded nest can hinder the equal attention and warmth that each egg needs. To ensure the optimal conditions for their development, birds may rearrange the eggs within the nest.
  • Habitat Changes: Whether due to construction or natural disasters, changes in their habitat may prompt birds to move their eggs, seeking out a safer place to raise their young.
  • Escape from Intruders: When birds notice curious onlookers or other birds getting too close to their nests, they may relocate their eggs to a secret spot, protecting them from potential harm.
  • Egg Rotation: Similar to flipping a pillow for comfort, birds sometimes turn their eggs to ensure proper development on all sides.
  • Ensuring Survival: By moving their eggs, birds increase the chances of successful hatching, ensuring that their little chicks grow strong and eventually take flight.

Notable Bird Species

Birds are renowned for their diverse and intriguing nesting behaviors. Some species are especially known for their peculiar habits when it comes to their eggs. Let’s take a look at a few interesting examples:


Hailing from Africa, weaverbirds are small, colorful birds celebrated for their exceptional nest-weaving skills. Using grass, leaves, and other materials, they expertly craft intricate nests.

When it comes to moving their eggs, weaverbirds delicately pick them up with their beaks. They have a firm grip to prevent any harm to the fragile eggs during transportation. What’s truly remarkable about their nests is that they are designed to hang from the ends of tree branches, beyond the reach of potential predators. The weaverbird’s craftsmanship and strategic nesting techniques ensure the safety of their eggs.


Cuckoos have developed a fascinating adaptation for ensuring the survival of their eggs. The female cuckoo studies her surroundings, patiently waiting for the host bird to leave its nest. In a matter of seconds, she swiftly lays her egg in the host’s nest.

To achieve this deception, cuckoos have evolved eggs that closely resemble those of the host bird. The mimicry is so convincing that the host parents are typically unable to distinguish the foreign egg from their own. It’s an astonishing strategy that guarantees the survival of the cuckoo’s offspring.

Common Eider

The common eider, a large sea duck inhabiting northern regions, builds its nests near the water, often on islands. But what’s truly remarkable is how they protect their eggs!

When a dangerous animal approaches their nest, such as a fox or a large bird, the mother duck displays an intelligent response. She carefully moves her eggs to a safer location, and at times, she even places them in another bird’s nest nearby. This strategic relocation ensures the safety of the precious eggs from potential harm.

Myths and Misconceptions

Birds and their eggs have always fascinated us, often leading to myths and misconceptions about their abilities and behavior. Let’s address some of these misconceptions and present clear evidence to debunk them:

Bird Eggs Roll on Their Own

Contrary to popular belief, bird eggs do not roll on their own. They are not like tiny balls capable of independent movement. Instead, birds meticulously place their eggs in nests and use their beaks and bodies to adjust their positions, ensuring the safety and warmth of the eggs.

Eggs Hatch When They Roll

Another common misconception suggests that eggs hatch as a result of rolling within the nest. In reality, egg movement does not determine when they hatch. The mother bird’s warmth, as she diligently sits on the eggs, is what facilitates the development of the chicks inside. Rolling eggs have no effect on the timing of hatching.

Eggs Need Constant Turning

Some believe that bird eggs must be continually turned to develop properly. However, not all bird species require constant turning. While chickens benefit from frequent egg rotation, many other species do not require it. Nature has uniquely designed each bird species with specific incubation needs, so not all eggs need constant turning to thrive.

Final Thoughts

Each bird species possesses its own distinctive way of protecting their young, whether by relocating eggs or constructing predator-proof nests. Take a moment to marvel at these intricate and awe-inspiring creatures. Explore the wonders of birds firsthand by observing them in their natural habitats. Embark on a journey full of discovery, thrill, and the captivating beauty of nature.

Birds, with their remarkable behaviors and unique adaptations, open the door to a world filled with wonder and complexity. Their nests, carefully constructed with twigs and leaves, serve as warm and secure homes for their precious eggs, highlighting the incredible diversity of avian life.

Do Birds Sit on Their Eggs All the Time?

No, birds do not constantly sit on their eggs. They periodically incubate the eggs to keep them warm, but they also leave the nest to forage for food and take short breaks.

Do Birds Sit on Eggs While They Hatch?

Yes, birds sit on their eggs while they hatch to provide warmth and facilitate the development of the embryos.

Can Birds Move Their Eggs to a New Nest?

Yes, some bird species are capable of moving their eggs to a new nest. This behavior is observed in various bird species, often done for a variety of reasons.

Images from the original article