Skip to content

How Long Is A Bird Pregnant Before Laying Eggs?

The term pregnancy is to adore and feel excited about. We humans carry the womb for 9 months, whereas, in other species, pregnancy varies.  

The longest pregnancy period in the animal kingdom is noticeable in elephants. They carry the baby for 18-22 months in the womb. That’s roughly two years! 

Again, birds (Class: Aves) lay eggs and the babies pop out of them! Since they lay eggs and incubate them for a certain period, it is very genuine to wonder how long is a bird pregnant before laying eggs.

Recently, we have been covering pretty exciting articles on birds like we always do. Today, one such topic is, how long is a bird pregnant before laying eggs. 

It mostly varies from species to species. But we are here to summarize that for you. Start reading and explore the fun!  

How Long Is A Bird Pregnant Before Laying Eggs

Do You Know? 

  • The eggs vary drastically in dimension from one bird to another. For instance, hummingbird eggs are tiny (0.5 to 0.8 inches) large ostrich eggs are large (6 inches).  
  • Some birds and their eggs also exhibit camouflage. Such as robin eggs are blue to blend with the sky. 
  • They may develop temporary brood patches, areas of featherless skin. It offers better heat transfer to eggs during incubation.
  • Cuckoos lay eggs in other birds’ nests to avoid parental care. It is a lazy habit to ignore duties! 
  • Eggshells have pigments. It protects them against harmful UV radiation. 
  • Bird eggs have hard shells of calcium carbonate. The shell protects the developing embryo and ensures the chicks grow healthy. 

How Long Is A Bird Pregnant Before Laying Eggs? 

Birds don’t experience pregnancy in the same way mammals do. They don’t need to carry their developing embryo inside their bodies. Instead, they lay eggs.  

This also varies for different birds. Here, let’s talk about a few popular birds we know about. 

A Table for How Long Is A Bird Pregnant Before Laying Eggs: 

A Table for How Long Is A Bird Pregnant Before Laying Eggs
BirdsPregnancy Period (After Fertilization)
Ostrich 40 Days 
Penguins 10 to 14 Days
AlbatrossesWeeks to 2 Months
Quails24 to 48 Hours
Swans5 to 7 Days
Songbirds1 to 2 Days
Waterfowl3 to 5 Days 
Ospreys7 to 10 Days
Bald Eagles5 to 7 Days (Within A Week)
Red-tailed Hawks7 to 10 Days
Peregrine Falcons5 to 7 Days (Within A Week)
Golden Eagles10 to 14 Days
Cooper’s Hawks5 to 7 Days (Within A Week)
Barn Owls2 to 3 Days
Swainson’s Hawks7 Days/ A Week

The list keeps going on and on. You get that, birds have different time periods to prepare the eggs for the world outside. Let’s dive a little deeper and find out the journey of an egg to hatchlings below. 

What Happens After Fertilization? 

What Happens After Fertilization

Ever wondered, how the egg builds up in a bird? Is it hard inside the belly or becomes hard after release? How do the birds even carry the eggs?

If you don’t know the answers, it’s time to find out. How the eggs build up in birds is indeed a complex process. 

  1. A mature female bird’s ovary releases only one oocyte or egg cell. It generally originates from the left ovary. Keep mark that, most birds have only one functional ovary. The oocyte has the yolk, the rich and nutrient source of life. 
  1. A tube connects the ovary of the female bird to the cloaca. The tube is the oviduct and this is where the fertilization occurs. After the successful copulation of two birds, the sperm from the male birds meet the egg in the oviduct.
  2. Formation of the Egg: This is where it begins! The oviduct is also where different layers of the eggs start to develop. The layers are yolk, albumen (egg white), and shell membranes. However, they don’t add up simultaneously. 
    After fertilization, the egg travels down the oviduct to the cloaca. This is when the layers are added sequentially. 
  • The Origin Point: It is the funnel-shaped infundibulum. This part captures the egg and fertilization starts here.
  • First, the egg moves into the magnum. It is the largest section of the oviduct. Here, albumen or egg white is added.
  • Then the egg moves forward the isthmus. It is the third section of the oviduct, about 4 inches long. Here, two shell membranes are formed.  
  1. The eggs have only one more step to finish – the hardening! There is a shell gland, (also known as the Uterus) in the left oviduct. It is responsible for the formation of the eggshell. It can take up to 20 hours. 

This is also the part you feel with your hands through the abdominal wall of a bird and it is the moment we bear the good news to others 😀 

Remember that, birds fly in the sky. They have to be as light as possible. After the shell is fully formed, they immediately lay the eggs. 

Finally, the female birds are done with the long journey of forming & laying eggs. And now, another step begins – the incubation. 

Here’s one of our in-depth articles that shows you a journey from nesting to hatching. Give it a read, it won’t disappoint you.  

Do Birds Feel Labor Pain? 

Do Birds Feel Labor Pain

It is a relief that, birds don’t feel the acute pain of labor as other mammals do. 

Birds have an entirely different reproductive system from mammals. In mammals, labor pain is associated with the contractions of the uterus. It helps them push the baby through the birth canal.

In birds, the muscle does contract but it’s not as painful as other mammals. It is the Gastetation period and may take between 24 to 26 hours. 

However, accidents like Egg Bindin can be extremely uncomfortable for the birds and painful too. It often happens due to a  lack of calcium and other minerals. 

Thus, if you have birds at home, provide them with supplements such as calcium and mineral bars regularly to prevent such painful experiences. 

Do the Eggs Come Out Hard? 

Do the Eggs Come Out Hard

In most birds, the eggs come out hard. As the shell forms inside, it is totally ready for the world and takes all the pressure through the cloaca. The eggs are already hard when they come out. 

Birds Lay Eggs In

Birds are territorial. Birds in the wild build nests and prepare right after they mate to lay the eggs safely. They bring twigs and wood to build their home and keep it safe from invaders or other predators. 

However, if you raise birds in-house. You would need to offer them an extra egg-laying box and spread wood sheet in it to make it comfortable for the birds. Also, offer them a separate box. They would need some privacy! 

Final Words

It’s amazing how life takes its course inside any living being. When it comes to birds, the process is more .. well, complicated! 

The journey doesn’t end after laying the eggs. They have to take a course and incubate the eggs. Both parents serve their duties equally in this and they do it quite well. 

Let us know in the comment section what you knew from our article that you didn’t know before. We would gladly participate. 

Also, please share our article with others as it will help us grow too! We will come back soon with another interesting article on our avian friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *