All birds come from eggs. The process of hatching is the tough beginning birds have in their lives. What does this process look like?
Some birds lay one egg, while others will lay multiples. Before the chicks can hatch, they need to be incubated. This is when one of the parents sits on the eggs to keep them warm. This responsibility may be just one parent’s or they may share it.1
Incubation takes a different amount of time for different birds. Songbirds, for example, may take only 10 days of incubation, while some raptors may take over a month.2 Incubation also may only start once all the eggs are laid, or right after the first one is laid. This is an important process because the embryos are at risk of dying if there is any significant temperature change.1
Once birds are ready to hatch, there are three things they need to go through:
Start using its lungs – when they’re embryos, they start out intaking oxygen through the shell. This is the first step for them to be able to breathe on their own.
Take blood from the blood vessels in the shell into the body.
Ingest the yoke within the egg.3
Once the chick is ready to hatch, it uses its egg tooth, which is a hard part of its beak, to help them break out of the shell. Some birds will break through the top part of the shell in a circle to remove it fully, while others only need to break out a smaller part in order to exit the shell. Sometimes, parents will help their offspring break the shell open.3
This process can take minutes, hours, or longer depending on the species of bird. Once the chicks are out of the shell, the shell can still pose a risk to the offspring. Parents will either eat the shell or they’ll toss it out of the nest to get rid of it.3
The other important process when it comes to chicks? Building a nest! Check out our blog here!