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How Many Eggs Do Birds Lay? What You Need to Know!

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bird on nest

This depends largely on the species of birds. Different birds lay differing numbers of eggs. Some birds only lay a few, while others lay more. Even chickens vary depending on the breed—some chickens lay a bunch, while others don’t lay many at all. Many chickens slow down in their production as they get older, too.

However, most birds only lay a single egg a day. They may lay a few eggs in a season, but this will be spread out over a few days. Larger bird species sometimes lay multiple eggs a day. Usually, eggs are laid in the morning, though this can vary.

A clutch is the number of eggs that a bird lays in a single attempt. Typically, they don’t lay all of these all at one time. Instead, they do it over a few different days. However, this also varies by bird. For instance, many penguin species only lay one, while a Wood Duck lays as many as 14.

Most nesting birds do lay a predictable number of eggs. To find out the correct number, scientists study the number of eggs various individuals in a species lay. Scientists have also studied if removing the eggs affects the number laid. In other words, do birds count the eggs to determine when they have enough eggs, or do they only make a certain number of eggs?

It appears that the answer depends on the bird. Sometimes, the bird will continue to lay eggs when their eggs are removed from the nest. Sometimes, they continued to lay eggs for as many as 73 days! Therefore, it seems that they continue to lay eggs during the laying season until they have the correct number.

However, other birds simply only laid the correct number and did not lay anymore after the eggs were removed—it seems that a bird’s ability to get to the correct number of eggs differed.

How Many Eggs Does a Bird Lay in a Day?

Almost all birds only lay one egg a day. They will lay one egg a day until they reach the correct clutch size. If eggs are removed, some birds will replace them with new eggs. However, not all species do this. Some only make five or so eggs a season and will only lay those eggs. Others seem to make eggs on demand to keep their clutch at the correct number.

Some larger species do lay two eggs a day, but this is rare. Furthermore, not all females in this species lay two eggs every day. Also, these birds tend to have smaller clutches in general, so they may only lay eggs on a single day.

american robin on her nest
Image Credit: Anthony Ricci, Shutterstock

How Many Eggs Do Birds Hatch?

Birds will typically try to hatch as many eggs as they have. However, not all eggs may hatch for one reason or another. Eggs may have genetic abnormalities that do not allow the fetus to develop correctly. In these cases, the egg will not hatch as nothing has developed in it.

Other times, the environment may have been incorrect for the egg for one reason or another. The egg in the middle might have gotten too warm, for instance. Eggs on the outside may get too cold, or the female could have missed the egg when laying on the clutch.

Either way, birds don’t only hatch a certain number of eggs. Their goal is to hatch all of them, even if not all of them end up hatching.

gray catbirds nest
Image Credit: Paul Tessier, Shutterstock

How Many Eggs Does a Small Bird Lay?

Small birds often lay more eggs than larger birds. However, it does depend. Each species of bird lays a different number of eggs per clutch, after all. The number usually differs by individual as well. Some birds simply lay a lot for their species while others lay fewer.

Generally, if you have chickens, the number of eggs will depend on the weather, climate, and breed. However, even then, you’ll have some very prolific layers and some layers that are not so prolific. There are individual differences just like there are in people.

Unless you know the bird and how they react to certain conditions, it is very difficult to predict the number of eggs laid to the exact number. Even then, birds can vary in the number of eggs they lay for no apparent reason.

hen hatching eggs
Image Credit: PhotoSongserm-Shutterstock

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

How Long is a Bird Pregnant Before Laying Eggs?

Birds are not really “pregnant” in a traditional sense. It takes most birds about 24 hours to completely develop an egg, which is why they lay about one a day. When the egg is developed, they will lay it so that another one is developed. They do not usually have more than one egg developing at a time.

For this reason, birds take a few days to lay their clutch—they will not lay once and then be done. The same can be said for hens, who will continually lay eggs as you remove them—usually. Some birds do lay more than others, though.

Sometimes, birds will continue to lay even if their eggs disappear in order to keep their clutch number correct while other birds only develop a set number of eggs and will not lay any more even if they are all taken out of the nest.

American Avocet nesting
Image Credit: Birdiegal, Shutterstock

Do Birds Reuse Nests?

Generally, birds will not reuse the same nest, even if it is very clean. Most birds will make a new nest in a new location. It may be in the same tree or the same general area, but it can also be miles away. While birds that migrate do return to the same general area each year, that does not mean that they will return to the same exact tree.

However, some species do reuse their nest. These are just a few and far between. 

You may be waiting for your resident birds to return after a long winter, but it may not happen. Usually, the birds will not use the same birdhouse, either. That doesn’t mean that new birds won’t show up though. If you want to encourage your birdhouse to be used again, your best bet is to remove the nest so that new birds aren’t worried that someone has already taken up shop.

Image Credit: Piqsels

Final Thoughts

Birds lay a varying number of eggs depending on their size. It appears that most birds “count” their eggs to ensure that they lay the “correct” number. If an egg disappears, most species will lay a replacement. In fact, some birds may lay an egg every day for months if their eggs keep disappearing.

However, others only develop a certain number of eggs every season.

Even domesticated birds like chickens vary in their egg-laying capacity. Some birds lay a lot of eggs only to slow down substantially after a few years. Other birds lay during the warmer months and not during the colder months. However, they will continue to lay for years.

There are also individual differences between birds within the same species. Some may lay on the upper side of normal while others are on the lower end. It all depends on the bird!

Featured Image Credit: Piqsels

About the Author Kristin Hitchcock

Kristin is passionate about helping animal lovers by informing them on the latest scientific research and understandings. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one day!