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Can Male Birds Lay Eggs? What You Need to Know!

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blackbird's eggs in the nest

Many bird owners are unsure of the sex of their bird until it lays eggs. Of course, there’s no such thing as a male bird laying them since only female birds have the reproductive organs to lay eggs. Like every other mammal, female and male birds have different reproductive systems, so the females have ovaries, and they can lay eggs, while the males have testes and produce sperm.

Below, we explain how birds lay eggs and provide more details about the topic.

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Only female birds lay eggs

Female birds have ovaries, so they are the only ones that can lay eggs. For most female birds, this can happen with or without a male but the egg won’t be fertile unless the female is exposed to a male bird.

yellow bird building its nest

Image Credit: Emily Lewis Photography, Shutterstock

How does a female bird lay eggs without a male?

Female birds ovulate, and due to natural hormonal changes, they can lay an egg without a mate. Those eggs will never hatch, and there will be no baby bird inside. A female laying eggs without a male happens when a bird’s brain stimulates the production of estrogen and other hormones that will result in an egg-laying.

Ovulation in female birds is not present all year round for all birds, and instead, it happens when there are changes in their environment. For example, warmer temperatures and longer days help a bird produce eggs. On the other hand, pet birds are not exposed to those changes so that they can bear eggs all year round.

How does the egg develop?

The egg is first a cell that develops when the hormonal changes occur, creating a yolk in a couple of days. The ovum in the yolk then gets a new protective coat—“the egg white” followed by membranes and lastly covered with the shell. The shell contains calcium and is added last before the egg is ready to leave the bird’s body.

barn swallow on the nest

Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock

What happens when the egg is fertilized?

Fertilization occurs early in the oviduct before the yolk and the egg white get coated. For fertilization to happen and be successful, a female needs to mate with a male before the ovarian follicle ovulates the egg to the oviduct.

Fertilized and non-fertilized eggs look the same, so there are only a couple of ways to figure out if the egg is fertile or not:

  • Candling: To do this, you would go into a dark room and shine a candle under a large surface of the egg. When the egg is fertile, you will notice a dark spot in the middle of the egg with veins around it. When the egg is not fertile, you will see the yolk without signs of veins and the embryo.
  • Opening the egg: You simply could crack the egg to know if it was fertile or infertile. Fertile eggs have a small circle around the yolk.

Related Read: Do Male Birds Have Testicles? What You Need To Know

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To sum it up, male birds cannot and won’t ever be able to lay eggs, although females can lay them even without a mate. If you notice your bird laying eggs but they haven’t mated with a male bird, there’s nothing to worry about—it’s a normal process.

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Featured Image Credit: foto-augenblick, Pixabay

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

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