Can a Bird Move Its Eggs? (I Found 7 Surprising Ways)

I noticed a dove had made a nest on my windowsill and laid eggs. After watching it for a few days, I woke up one morning to see it but I found that the bird and its eggs were gone.

One question pops up in my mind. Does the bird move its eggs from the nest? I started searching for the answer and what I found will amaze you.

Yes, some bird species can move their eggs within the nest to protect them from threats or adjust the temperature.

Keep reading for more interesting things that I discovered. 

4 Reasons Why birds move their egg from its nest?

There are a few reasons why a bird might move an egg from its nest. These factors influence their decisions:

  1. Predator Threat: When birds sense predators approaching, they might relocate their eggs to a safer spot to avoid losing them.
  2. Temperature Regulation: Extreme temperatures can be harmful to developing eggs. Birds may move them to maintain the ideal temperature for incubation.
  3. Nest Conditions: If the nest gets too crowded or becomes unsuitable due to damage or parasites, birds may shift their eggs to a more suitable location.
  4. Human Disturbance: Birds can be sensitive to human presence. If their nest is disturbed too often, they may move their eggs to reduce the risk of harm.
  5. Intraspecific Competition: In some cases, birds might move eggs within the nest to ensure that all offspring have equal access to food and attention from parents.
  6. To abandon the nest: If a bird decides that its nest is not safe or suitable for raising chicks, it may abandon the nest and move the eggs to a new location. 

In some cases, birds may also move their eggs as part of their normal nesting behavior.

For example, some species of birds build multiple nests and then move their eggs between the nests.

How do birds move their eggs

How do birds move their eggs(7 different ways)

Birds have several strategies for moving their eggs, and they do it in simple yet effective ways:

  1. In their beaks: This is the most common way for small birds, such as songbirds and finches, to move their eggs. The bird will gently pick up the egg with its beak and carry it to a new location.
  2. With their feet: Larger birds, such as raptors and waterbirds, may use their feet to move their eggs. The bird will grip the egg with its talons and carefully carry it to a new location.
  3. Rolling Eggs: Some ground-nesting birds, like penguins, use their beaks to nudge the eggs, slowly rolling them to a safer place within the nest.
  4. Shifting with the Bill: Birds like eagles or owls may use their beaks to carry and shift the eggs to reposition them for better protection or temperature control.
  5. Nudging with the Body: For larger birds or in the case of many eggs, the parent might use their body to carefully reposition the eggs within the nest.
  6. Carrying Eggs in Pouches: A few species, like pelicans, have a specialized pouch where they can carry their eggs from one location to another, keeping them safe.
  7. In some cases, birds may also work together to move their eggs. For example, some species of parrots will work together to carry their eggs to a new nest site.

Birds are very careful when moving their eggs, as eggs are very fragile. Birds will often take breaks while moving their eggs to avoid dropping them.

Actual behavior when a bird moves its eggs

When a bird decides to move its eggs, it typically follows a few specific steps:

  1. Assessment: The bird first evaluates the situation, considering factors like threats, temperature, or nest condition.
  2. Careful Relocation: Using its beak, feet, or body, the bird gently lifts the eggs, ensuring they don’t get damaged.
  3. Selecting a New Spot: The bird identifies a safer or more suitable location for the eggs, often within the same nest but sometimes in a different one.
  4. Transport: With the eggs securely in its grasp, the bird carries them to the chosen spot.
  5. Settling In: The eggs are carefully placed in the new location, often with adjustments to their orientation or arrangement.
  6. Vigilance: After moving the eggs, the bird remains watchful, ready to repeat the process if necessary.

Which one of the parent birds moves the eggs, male or female birds?

Typically, the mother bird is the one who moves the eggs. This is because the female bird is the one who incubates the eggs and cares for the chicks.

If the female bird needs to move the eggs, she can do so without having to leave the nest unattended.

There are some exceptions to this rule. In some species of birds, such as the emperor penguin, the male bird incubates the eggs. In these cases, the male bird will move the eggs to a safer location if necessary.

Can wild birds move their eggs to active nests?

Wild birds can move their eggs to active nests, but it is not common.

If the eggs are moved to a nest that is already occupied by other chicks, the other chicks may compete with the new chicks for food and resources.

There are a few reasons why a wild bird might move its eggs to an active nest:

Why do birds push eggs out of the bird nests?

  • The egg is damaged or it may lay infertile eggs
  • Some species of birds, such as cuckoos, lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. The host bird may push the cuckoo’s egg out of the nest to prevent it from hatching and competing with its chicks for food.
  • The nest is too crowded.
  • The bird is stressed or disturbed.
List of Birds that Move Eggs

List of Birds that Move Eggs

Many different species of birds including North American birds move their eggs. Some of the most common species include:

  • Small birds: Songbirds, finches, wrens, warblers, sparrows, chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches
  • Larger birds: Raptors (hawks, eagles, owls), waterbirds (ducks, geese, swans), and shorebirds
  • Ground-nesting birds: Plovers, sandpipers, killdeer, quail, pheasants, grouse, and turkeys
  • Black-crowned Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax): These herons have been observed relocating their eggs to protect them from flooding in the nest or potential predators.
  • European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris): European starlings are cavity-nesting birds known for moving eggs within their nests to prevent chilling or overheating, ensuring optimal incubation conditions.
  • Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos)
  • Parrots
  • Blue Jays
  • Penguins

Can a robin move its eggs?

An American robin may lay 3 to 4 eggs in their nest. If you ever see robin eggs disappear from the nest then they must be moved to another nest.

Is it safe to move bird eggs?

Moving bird eggs is not safe. It can harm the eggs and disrupt the process. It’s best to let birds handle their nests.

When a bird moves its eggs, there are risks involved. 

Eggs are very fragile, and there is a risk that they may break when they are being moved. This is especially true for larger eggs or eggs that are being moved in rough weather.

Eggs will not hatch, and it can also cause stress to the bird.

If a bird is disturbed while it is moving its eggs, it may abandon its nest and eggs altogether. This is because birds are very sensitive to disturbances.


If a bird senses danger or if the nesting site becomes unsafe, the parent bird may relocate its eggs to a more secure location. This behavior is not a result of random actions but is deeply rooted in the instinct to protect their offspring.

This incredible ability highlights the lengths to which these feathered parents go to ensure the survival of their precious chicks.


Why do birds roll their eggs?

Birds roll their eggs to help keep them evenly heated. The egg membrane is porous. Water and gas can pass through it. This is important for the developing chick, as it needs oxygen to breathe and water to survive.

Can pigeons shift their eggs?

Yes, pigeons can shift their eggs.

Can doves move their eggs to another nest?

Yes, doves can move their eggs to another nest.

Can cardinals move their eggs?

Yes, cardinals can move their eggs.

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