Laying and hatching – different birds do different things.

///Laying and hatching – different birds do different things.

Laying and hatching – different birds do different things.

Like lots of other things I have talked about so far in Chatterbox different birds do different things when it comes to laying eggs.

Female_mallard_duck_J2For example the Mallard duck will lay an egg each day into the nest. The female Mallard might lay up to 14 eggs. So it will take 14 days for all the eggs to be laid into the nest. The eggs must be safe so they are covered with nest material to hide them. The female Mallard will then incubate the eggs. In other words, once all the eggs are laid she will keep the eggs cosy and warm helping the chicks inside the eggs to grow and develop. The eggs will then all hatch on the same day! The ducklings will stay in the nest for about 12 hours with their mother keeping them warm. As soon as it is safe to leave the mother Mallard will lead her ducklings to a pond. The ducklings will take their first swim on the first day outside of the egg. If the weather is too wet or cold the mother duck might keep her family huddled up for longer.

brood patchThe Blue tit's egg laying pattern is very similar. The female lays an egg each day, into the nice cosy nest. When all her eggs have been laid (sometimes an amazing 16 eggs!) the female will incubate the eggs. The female has a special patch on her tummy called the brood patch. She will pull out the feathers so that her warm skin is close to her eggs. The eggs will hatch at about the same time and the chicks will grow up together. When they are strong enough they will leave the nest.

Barn owls have a different plan. The female lays the egg, about 2 days apart. The eggs are kept warm straight away. The eggs will then hatch on different days. This means that the first chick to hatch will be the biggest chick and the last chick to hatch will be the smallest. This can mean that sometimes, when food is difficult to find, the bigger chicks get fed first and the smaller chick may not live. This is very sad. It does mean that when there is plenty of food around the Barn Owl will have 3 or 4 chicks that grow big enough to leave the nest in about July.

Can you see how nature does different things for different birds? this is how all living things can share the same habitat.

The Cuckoo only lays one egg at a time, but can have many chicks each year - another clever trick of nature!

Photographs: Female Mallard Duck (Upper) and Brood Patch (Lower)

By |2018-09-04T08:51:13+00:00May 5th, 2015|Chatterbox, Chatterbox 2015|0 Comments

About the Author:

Jackie Day
Until recently Jackie was the RSPB Education Officer for West Sussex based at The Pulborough Brooks Nature Reserve. Responsible there for developing and delivering the education programme on the reserve and in schools, Jackie has considerable experience working with schools, teachers and pupils teachers on developing science and nature activities that address the requirements of the new primary curriculum.

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