Birds usually lay eggs between early spring to mid-summer. During this period, parent birds have more food sources to feed their chicks. And the weather is comfortable for the babies to be grown up. But, this doesn’t mean that adults cannot lay eggs in other seasons.
This may arise a question in your mind, do birds lay eggs in winter? The short answer is yes. Although it may seem strange, some birds, like great-horned owls and bald eagles, lay eggs during the winter months. In fact, great-horned owls raise their chicks in harsh winter.
In this article, we’re going to talk about which types of birds lay eggs in winter. Therefore, you can identify them after watching the little ones during the colder months. Here is another article for you: which birds don’t migrate in wintertime.
Which Birds Lay Eggs in Winter?
In North America, some birds that lay eggs in winter are:
- Great-Horned Owl
- Bald Eagle
- White-Winged Crossbill
- Eurasian Collared Dove
- Mourning Dove
#1. Great-Horned Owl
Great-horned owls lay eggs in winter, depending on where they live. In Florida, these birds lay eggs in late November. In the Carolinas, the egg-laying process continues from late December to early January, laying one egg every two days.
Typically, great-horned owls have only one brood (1 to 4 eggs, very rarely 5) per season. They usually start incubating after the first egg is laid. According to the scientific literature, the incubation process takes 30 to 37 days to hatch babies.
#2. Bald Eagle
Another early nester is the bald eagle. While raptors like hawks lay eggs in spring months, bald eagles lay eggs in the winter. They start egg laying in late February during extremely snowy conditions. But, they hatch the eggs between mid-April to early May.
After being hatched, young fledglings remain under the watchful eye of the parent for the next 6 weeks until they learn how to catch prey with talons. Once the time is finished, young eaglets attempt to catch live prey as late summer yields abundant food sources.
#3. White-Winged Crossbill
White-winged crossbills usually lay eggs every month of the year. Therefore, they lay eggs in the middle of winter as well. The female is ready to produce a brood if the breeding area has a steady supply of conifer cone seeds, like Douglas fir, pines, hemlock, etc.
The bills of white-winged crossbills have mandibles that cross at the tip. With the help of the mandibles, these birds extract seeds from conifer cones with great efficiency. They even store seeds in their throat or crop to feed their babies.
#4. Eurasian Collared Dove
Eurasian collared doves are year-round nesters. These birds also lay eggs in extreme winter conditions. The eggs are smooth, white, and slightly glossy. The clutch size consists of 1 to 2 eggs. The number of broods in a year is 3 to 6.
The incubation period requires 14 to 19 days. Once the chicks are hatched, the parents feed their babies crop milk and a wide variety of seeds, such as core, millet, sunflower, and safflower. The young birds require 6 weeks to fledge.
#5. Mourning Dove
In southern states, mourning doves may lay eggs in winter, especially in January and February. These birds usually reproduce as many as six broods per year, laying 1 to 2 eggs per brood. Unlike the eggs of Eurasian collared doves, the eggs are unmarked, white.
The incubation period lasts for 14 days. For your information, the nests are so flimsy. Therefore, the eggs or the chicks may sometimes fall out. That’s why mourning doves raise as many broods as possible to keep enough species going.
Why Do Some Birds Lay Eggs in Winter And Others Don’t?
Some birds, like great-horned owls and bald eagles, lay eggs in winter because they don’t have to depend on the insect population. These birds feed on fish, mammals, other small birds, and late blooming conifer cones. Longer winter nights help them hunt more prey.
On the other hand, birds that have to depend on insects and seeds don’t lay eggs in winter. They prefer the spring and summer months. Besides, some birds are out there that need to lay and incubate their eggs in temperate conditions.
How To Help Winter Egg Laying Birds
Here are a few tips you can follow:
1. Put Out High Energy Foods
In order to help winter eggs laying birds, you should put out high-energy foods, such as black oil sunflower seeds, sunflower chips, suet, peanuts, etc. Make sure to keep the seeds fresh and dry. Always keep the bird feeders clean. Use multiple feeders to allow more visitors.
2. Provide Fresh Water
Adult birds require drinking water in extremely cold winter conditions. Since snow is everywhere, birds have to use their body heat to melt ice and drink the liquid. A heated birdbath in your backyard can help winter egg-laying birds drink water.
3. Offer Mealworms
White-winged crossbill may love mealworms if you offer them in winter. Mealworms have many health benefits, including high-quality protein, amino acids, vitamins, fats, and omega 3 fatty acids. They help birds lay healthy eggs.
Now that you know which birds lay eggs in winter, you should help them get enough food. If you’re a backyard bird enthusiast and would like to see birds in winter, here is the binocular you may like to use to observe these winter visitors.
However, we hope you have learned a lot about whether birds lay eggs in winter or not. If you have ever experienced a bird laying eggs in winter, let us know below in the comment section. Follow our Facebook page to get the latest articles on birds.
- David Stephens/Flicker.com