How Long Does It Take for a Bird to Lay an Egg?

Not much is commonly known about how long it takes for a bird to lay an egg unless you study things of that nature. Whether you own a bird yourself or are wondering when the little bluebird chicks will start chirping, it is fun to know more about these creatures.

It usually takes a bird twenty-four hours to lay an egg. That means female birds usually lay one egg a day. However, this will vary based on the time of year, length of the day, species of bird, and temperature.

The process of laying eggs is quite complex and depends greatly on the type of bird.  It’s important to know about this if you have any birds nesting nearby or own one yourself.

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How Long Does It Take for a Bird to Lay an Egg?

Most birds can lay one egg in one day. Although, a lot of factors go into that. They first have to find a place to breed, find a mate, build a nest, then actually go through the mating process.

While many tropical birds can lay two or three eggs in one nesting attempt, Wood Ducks can lay as many as 15 to 20 eggs. The Wood Duck hen only lays one egg per day for about thirty minutes in the early morning, and doesn’t begin full-time incubation until all eggs are laid.

While some birds like Wood Ducks begin incubation after all eggs are laid, some birds start as soon as the first egg is laid. That means the first egg begins development earlier, and the eggs would hatch at different times.

When Do Birds Lay Eggs?

This answer varies with different breeds, and while a lot of birds do lay eggs in Spring, there are other breeds that lay eggs in different seasons and times of the year. Let’s go through some different factors.


Birds like Sandpipers live at much higher latitudes so their breeding season is shortened. This also causes the young birds to adapt much quicker due to the short season. Birds at lower latitudes have longer mating seasons.


Temperature affects egg-laying in a lot of birds due to food becoming available sooner when it is warmer. Abnormal heat can cause birds to have to lay eggs outside what is normal for them.

Length of Day

The length of day affects both the hormone levels in the bird, and the food available in their environment. This, in turn, changes when birds lay eggs due to the birds having to accommodate what suits them best in the situation.

Chicken hens need about 14 hours of light to lay eggs. During the short days of winter, there are only around 8 hours of light. Many people choose to put lights in their chicken coop to extend the laying season. However, too much light can cause a young chicken to develop before their body is ready and may cause long-term harm.

Spring gives the longest time of sunlight for hens to lay eggs, but since that isn’t always available, you can still use artificial light as long as you only give them the hours needed and no more than that.


Spring is considered the classic egg-laying season and is the reason Easter eggs are popular and people go on bird watching trips. In spring, the days are longer and the temperatures are warmer meaning more food, like insects, for the birds.

Summer and Fall are too late for most egg-laying because the chicks wouldn’t be completely developed by Winter. Egg-laying in Spring gives the rest of Spring, Summer, and Fall to develop.

One of the most common birds that lay eggs in Spring is the American Robin. In fact, they are known as the harbinger of Spring.


Though laying eggs in Winter is not common, it is not unheard of. A lot of birds breed later in the season because they have easy access to various seeds which you can see below.

  • Winter Pine Seeds
  • Nyjer
  • Dandelion
  • Sunflower

Though there aren’t many insects in the Winter, they still have plenty to eat. They eat jackrabbits, rodents, other birds, fish, as well. 

When people think of birds in the Winter, the first bird that is brought up is most likely the Great-Horned Owl, but there are other birds that breed in the Winter, such as:

  • Great-Horned Owl
  • Bald Eagle
  • Crossbill
  • American Goldfinch


Birds that breed year-round depend on food in people’s gardens or food scraps left behind. Often considered pests, scarecrows are often put in the middle of a garden hoping to scare crows away. These birds also depend on milkweed and thistle to build their nest.

Below are a few birds that breed year-round:

  • Collared Doves
  • Mourning Doves
  • Pigeons

Do Birds Lay Eggs Without Fertilization?

It’s common for birds to lay eggs without fertilization because an egg is formed before fertilization. Female birds can produce eggs without sperm, and in some cases, it can actually be a danger to the bird if she does not lay eggs.

This danger is a medical condition that prevents female birds from laying an egg. This could mean the egg could be lodged somewhere in the bird’s body. It can sometimes be passed by massaging the bird’s stomach, but if not, you need to seek medical attention.

The egg could also break inside the bird meaning that shards of the shell and residue could make their way into parts of the bird’s body that it shouldn’t be. It can cause infection and hurt the bird.  The oviduct which is the equivalent of a fallopian tube – should also be cleaned.

Do Birds Know If Their Eggs Are Dead?

In general, mother birds are usually aware if the egg is dead. Although, it all depends on the experience the bird has as a mother. Some birds do not know how to detect a dead egg if they are new mothers.

Just like with humans, experience helps you detect certain things. With humans, new mothers are often unaware of certain things, and they may ask their friends and family that have more experience as a mother. Over time, mothers learn a few tips and tricks to understand their baby better.

The same goes for mother birds when detecting a dead egg. They don’t know what to look for at first, but as they have more experience with eggs, they will realize what to look for to determine a dead egg.

Below are a few things they may look for:

  • The lack of weight in a dried out egg
  • Dark color and dullness
  • Lack of movement
  • Sudden silence from a bird that was developed enough to chirp

In most cases, the bird throws out the egg or may build another nest on top of the dead eggs to lay more eggs. They may even bury the eggs with the nest material. Although, some captive brooding birds may want to stay and sit on the eggs because their hormonal drive to sit on the eggs is so strong.

Sometimes, they even sit on something that isn’t an egg, simply to feel like they are sitting on one.

How Long Does It Take for a Bird to Lay an Egg – Now You Know

While an egg takes about twenty-four hours to lay, there is a lot more to know than just that. Different factors, like time of year and access to food, will change when they lay too.

But, now you know just a bit more about the reproductive cycle of birds!