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What Birds Lay Blue Eggs? 5 Species That Bring Out The Blues

Blue-Egg-Laying Bird

Last Updated: September 20, 2022

All birds lay eggs; the shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns of eggs and even how they function are diverse among each species. Even more interesting is that birds are the only creatures that lay colorful eggs among living vertebrates.

In birdwatching communities, seeing bird nests and eggs sparks joy and awe, leading to the appreciation of the miracle of life unraveling in backyards and forests.

Which is why...

Many would often wonder, what bird lays blue eggs? If you're here with the same question, please read on to discover more about a colored egg.

What Birds Lay Blue Eggs

The sight of blue eggs or any other pigmented eggs in a bird's nest will make anyone curious about their possible origin. It will make them think, what birds have blue eggs? Is there some truth to the existence of blue speckled bird eggs?

Quite understandable, though, if the first thought that comes to mind is that these blue eggs came from a bluebird. Various species can produce colorful eggs; even a chicken breed can lay blue eggs, like the Ameraucana chicken, Easter egger, and Araucana chicken.

Even the Olive egger lays brown eggs, and let's not forget how the Favaucana breed has a green egg. Seeing fragments of eggshells in your garden, in the woods, or during your travels can be a delightful surprise. It can be exciting to see more than the usual white egg. 

The remarkable diversity of these eggs, whether from birds or poultry, captures human minds like no other. Humans and the avian life share each other's sensory worlds, interacting primarily through colors, shapes, and visual or auditory displays.

Let's find out more about these birds that lay blue eggs:

1. American Robin

American Robin
American Robin

An American robin lays their beautiful blue eggs in a nesting cup with grass stems in trees or shrubberies in houses, orchards, and open woods. Such a bird breeds from the US mid regions to the north of the Arctic Ocean.

This North American thrush species produces at least four eggs with two to three broods.

Since the bird can otherwise seem conspicuous to the human eye in its brown nest, the egg's color allows some protection from predators by being unnoticeable. Some say that the bird's color is not entirely blue but more of a greenish-blue shade.

The American robin egg color in a distinctive blue shade seems an optical illusion that makes it less visible on the periphery of the blue sky. One study shows that a male robin provides more food for its young nests with striking blue eggs than those with pale-looking eggs.

2. Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird

The Eastern bluebird is a hole nester species in trees or anywhere with a suitable cavity or nest box. Establishing the bird's nest starts with the male demonstrating the preferred site to the female bird and sealing the deal once the female enters the cavity.

Its nest is a cup on a straw platform lined with fine grass and has a small entrance hall, inaccessible to invasive starlings.

The female will then begin to weave the nest from grasses and pine needles and, once done, will start to lay eggs. It will lay one egg early each morning until she produces a clutch comprising two to seven eggs.

Females often lay five eggs in spring or four later in summer; the incubation process begins once the clutch is complete.

Such a bluebird has light blue speckled bird eggs with brown spots, an identical-looking egg among many thrush-like birds due to their affinity with the bluebirds. You can find the bluebird's nest in oak trees, stumps, and artificial nest boxes.

3. House Finch

House Finch
House Finch

House finches are among the best-known western birds that nest commonly in trees, bushes, and growing vines on porches. Such birds use nests from thin weeds, grass stems, tree twigs, rootlets, and feathers. Otherwise, it uses a nest box placed five to ten feet above the ground.

Sometimes, these finches recycle old nests from other birds as the male tends to the nest and feeds a female incubating and brooding their hatchlings.

Brown headed cowbird species parasitize such a finch, especially during the early weeks of nesting season, including all summer months. Female house finches choose to nest close to the ground, laying blue colored bird eggs with fine, scattered black marks at the egg's larger end.

Likewise, yellow warblers emit alarm calls when cowbirds are near the nest. The female stays alert by spreading its wings to deter other birds from approaching, even burying a cowbird egg if they find one in their nest.

Generally, it's a clutch of four or five eggs, each measuring 0.75 to 0.8 inches long, approximately. These are small speckled eggs, only 0.5 inches wide, taking at least twelve to fourteen days to complete incubation.

4. Dunnock

Dunnock
Dunnock

The Dunnock is a garden bird that many people would refer to as the hedge sparrow, a familiar name they would give to a small bird. Some would mistake it for a wren, a house sparrow, or a juvenile robin for sharing some similarities.

Such is a bird often frequenting backyard feeders or foraging the ground for fallen scraps.

When discussing what birds lay blue eggs, you can ensure that dunnocks are always part of the list. It's not unusual to see this British bird rearing in various habitats with dense, shrubby vegetation, including gardens, deciduous woodland, bramble patches, and hedgerows.

It has a pretty odd mating behavior, a bizarre arrangement with multiple partners. There are male and female pairs, a male pairing with two females, or females pairing with two or more males.

The females create a cup-shaped nest from grasses, roots, and leaves, lining it with soft nesting materials. These birds lay four to five small, pale blue eggs, hatching two weeks later and two weeks more before fledging. 

Since such a species is a well-known host to cuckoos, the female cuckoo removes the dunnock's eggs before such could lay eggs in the nest. Despite this nest parasitism, dunnocks feed cuckoo chicks even if they look different from their juveniles.

5. Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Nesting Great blue herons are usually in trees, far from the best feeding grounds. The herons need a substantial nest to house their eggs. Even the heron's nestlings stay in the nest for seven to eight weeks and then return to the nest to feed for another few weeks after fledging.

Heronries, or rookeries, are colonies of great blue herons, consisting of dozens or even hundreds of nests.

Such birds prefer nesting in trees, bushes, and mangroves. Herons from the south roost in sizable colonies, those from the north go solo or join a group of hundreds. Both sexes construct platforms of sticks high up in trees near ponds, swamps, and rivers. 

But in the northernmost regions of their range, where trees are scarce, herons build their nest on the ground. The adult herons are among the many other birds that bond with their mates during nest construction. Its nesting habits and eggs are identical to the blue heron.

Great blue herons lay three to five eggs of greenish-blue color in a nest placed at least fifteen feet above the ground. These creatures never stop adding more sticks to improve their nests, ensuring that no eggs fall through. 

The incubation is twenty-five to thirty days, done by both parents, including feeding their young.


Essential Reminders In Studying Bird Eggs And Their Young

Nesting is one of the most riveting aspects of a bird's life, but such times are when it is most vulnerable. Birds have to stay in one place during nesting and rearing their baby bird, making them incapable of fleeing from predators.

During the early stages of laying and incubation, birds are likely to desert even at the slightest disturbance. Nest exposure, especially in birds like gulls, triggers them to swiftly take the eggs and the young. 

Such commotion is even worse in bird colonies and can result in the abandonment of the entire settlement. 

Additionally, even the slightest disorder to nesting materials, such as twigs and leaves, while viewing the nest might expose the nest to a potential predator. Hovering close to the nest may prevent the birds from returning to it, so the eggs and their young will freeze to death.

Besides, being familiar with North American birds' field marks, vocalizations, behaviors, and habitat preferences are all crucial to identifying them.

When studying nesting birds, it is best to minimize such disruptions by examining the nest only when it is empty and be as swift as possible. It would help if you could adapt to different techniques that will be more efficient in observing bird eggs and nests. 

Collecting eggs and nestlings is illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Do check out the provisions of this law before you proceed with your study of bird eggs and nests.

Understanding The Nature Of Pigmented Eggs

Our knowledge of the birds laying blue eggs does not end there. What's even more valuable is understanding why some eggs have various colors.

Calcium carbonate, which appears white to human eyes, is the main component of eggs. This pure white color in many cavity nesters' eggs may help parents spot them in the dark. 

The varying egg colors are due to the pigment secretion from the oviduct. Such comes in handy for serving as protection from potential predators.

Breaking down normal bodily fluids, such as bile and hemoglobin, produces these pigments that can also strengthen the eggshell.

Protoporphyrins give the eggs red and yellow shades, while the biliverdins are pigments responsible for the blue egg layer and green hues. Some of these eggs have maculation or any spots and marks coming from the nesting material.

Protoporphyrin concentrations are higher in eggs with spots, lines, or scrawls. On the other hand, combining two pigments in varying proportions results in colors ranging from violet to green.

Experts are still studying why the interaction of the eggshell's crystalline structure causes so much diversity in shell colors and patterns.

Contrary to humans, birds have four photoreceptor proteins, which results in more accurate and detailed color perception. It includes seeing color in the UV region, not visible to humans.

Aside from the pigment deposits, powdery materials also contribute to the egg's appearance. Such a substance wears off during incubation.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What British bird lays small blue eggs?

Several birds are nesting near their food sources around the UK. These include species laying a white egg, brown egg, blue egg, or anything in between. British garden birds with blue eggs are the dunnock, blackbird, starling, chaffinch, goldfinch, song and mistle thrush, and more. 

Do blue jays have blue eggs?

Despite many individuals in birding communities despising a blue jay for being a backyard bully, one cannot discredit its remarkably colorful eggs. A blue jay can produce bluish, greenish buff, faint brown eggs with distinctive brown or grey spots.

Does a great horned owl have a colored egg?

The great horned owl is a bird-laying species and an early nester that can lay one to four spherical eggs in dull white. Its first egg is typically the largest, the last one is the smallest, and it incubates between thirty to thirty-seven days.


Conclusion

A bird egg varies widely in shape, color, and markings. It is no surprise how the striking colors of avian eggs fascinate and inspire many people both scientifically and aesthetically. 

Pigmentation variations are relative to the disparities in shell thickness, explaining the distinctive spot patterns in eggshells. Some bird species have blue eggs ranging from subtle white to rich turquoise. As we now know, pigment can appear in any or all shell layers.

Learning more about these eggs allows for better identification of unwelcomed invasive species and pinpointing active brood parasites. All this knowledge and more can help support effective conservation strategies and protect our wildlife for future generations to enjoy.

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