How Long Does It Take For Bird Eggs To Hatch?

Watching baby birds hatch can be an amazing experience. As a bird parent, knowing the incubation period for your species allows you to prepare the nest and anticipate the big event.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: most songbird eggs hatch in 10 to 14 days, but larger birds like chickens take 21 days.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover incubation periods for common backyard birds. We’ll look at factors impacting incubation length, what happens inside the egg during development, and tips for creating hatching success.

Incubation Times by Species

Canary: 13 to 14 days

The incubation period for canary eggs typically ranges from 13 to 14 days. During this time, the parent canaries take turns sitting on the eggs to keep them warm and ensure proper development. It’s fascinating to witness the dedication of these tiny birds as they patiently wait for their eggs to hatch.

If you’re a bird enthusiast, you can create a cozy environment for your canaries to encourage successful incubation.

Finch: 13 to 14 days

Finch eggs generally take about 13 to 14 days to hatch. The female finch is primarily responsible for incubating the eggs while the male assists in feeding her. It’s important to maintain optimal conditions in the finch’s habitat during this period, including providing a consistent temperature and humidity level.

By doing so, you can help ensure a successful hatching process and the arrival of adorable finch chicks.

Sparrow: 10 to 14 days

The incubation period for sparrow eggs can range from 10 to 14 days. Sparrows are known for their adaptability and can build nests in various locations, including trees, shrubs, and even buildings. During incubation, both the male and female sparrows take turns keeping the eggs warm.

It’s incredible how these small birds can navigate the challenges of urban environments and successfully raise their young.


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Robin: 12 to 14 days

Robin eggs typically take about 12 to 14 days to hatch. This period is filled with anticipation as the parent robins diligently tend to their eggs, protecting them from predators and ensuring they receive the necessary warmth.

It’s a joy to witness the moment when the baby robins finally emerge from their shells. If you’re lucky enough to have a robin’s nest in your vicinity, make sure to observe from a safe distance to avoid disturbing the birds.


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Understanding the incubation times of different bird species can deepen our appreciation for the intricate processes of nature. If you’re interested in learning more about bird eggs and incubation, you can visit reputable websites such as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology or the Audubon Society.

These organizations provide valuable resources and information for bird enthusiasts of all levels.

Factors Influencing Incubation Period

Egg Size

The size of the bird egg plays a significant role in determining the incubation period. Generally, larger eggs take longer to hatch compared to smaller ones. This is because larger eggs contain more nutrients and require more time for the embryo to fully develop.

For example, the ostrich egg, which is the largest bird egg, has an incubation period of around 42 to 46 days, while the hummingbird egg, which is one of the smallest bird eggs, hatches in about 14 to 18 days.

Incubation Temperature

The temperature at which the eggs are kept during incubation is crucial for their development. Different bird species have specific temperature requirements for optimal incubation. For example, most songbirds require a consistent temperature of around 37 to 38 degrees Celsius (99 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit) for successful hatching.

If the temperature deviates significantly from the optimal range, it can lead to developmental abnormalities or even death of the embryos.

Parental Incubation Behavior

The behavior of the parent birds during incubation also affects the duration of the incubation period. Some bird species take turns incubating the eggs, with each parent spending a specific amount of time on the nest.

This shared incubation behavior helps to regulate the temperature and ensure proper development of the embryos. In contrast, certain bird species have only one parent responsible for incubation, which may result in a longer incubation period.

Environmental Conditions

The environmental conditions in which the eggs are laid and incubated can influence the incubation period. Factors such as humidity levels, availability of food, and predation risk can impact the development of the embryos.

For example, in environments with high predation risk, birds may incubate their eggs for shorter periods to minimize exposure to potential predators. On the other hand, in more favorable conditions with ample food resources and lower predation risk, the incubation period may be longer.

Understanding the factors influencing the incubation period of bird eggs is essential for biologists and bird enthusiasts alike. By considering factors such as egg size, incubation temperature, parental incubation behavior, and environmental conditions, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the remarkable process of avian reproduction.

Embryo Development During Incubation

When bird eggs are laid, they are not yet capable of hatching. Instead, they must undergo a complex process of development known as embryogenesis. This process occurs during the incubation period, which is the time when the parent birds sit on the eggs to provide warmth and create the ideal conditions for the embryos to grow and develop.

Early Cell Division

During the early stages of incubation, the embryo undergoes rapid cell division. The fertilized egg divides into smaller cells, forming a blastoderm. This blastoderm consists of two layers – the epiblast, which gives rise to the bird’s body, and the hypoblast, which forms the yolk sac.

As the cells multiply, they start to differentiate and specialize, laying the foundation for the development of different tissues and organs.

Did you know? The first cell division in a bird embryo typically occurs within the first few hours after fertilization. This rapid division is crucial for the subsequent development of the bird.

Tissue and Organ Formation

As incubation progresses, the embryo undergoes tissue and organ formation. The cells within the blastoderm continue to differentiate and organize themselves into specific structures. The neural tube, which will develop into the brain and spinal cord, starts to form.

The heart begins to beat, and blood vessels start to develop. Limb buds appear, which will eventually grow into wings and legs. This stage of development is crucial as it sets the foundation for the bird’s anatomy and physiology.

Fun fact: The order in which tissues and organs develop in bird embryos is highly coordinated. For example, the eyes start forming before the beak, and the feathers begin to develop after the internal organs have started to take shape.

Growth and Maturation

During the later stages of incubation, the embryo experiences rapid growth and maturation. The bird’s body continues to develop, and its organs become fully functional. Feathers start to emerge, covering the body and providing insulation.

The skeleton strengthens, allowing the bird to support its own weight. By the end of the incubation period, the embryo is fully developed and ready to hatch.

Interesting fact: The duration of the incubation period varies depending on the bird species. For example, chicken eggs typically hatch after approximately 21 days of incubation, while ostrich eggs can take up to 42 days.

Tips for Successful Hatching

Choose Appropriate Nest Sites

When it comes to hatching bird eggs, selecting the right nest site is crucial. Different bird species have different preferences for the type of nest they choose. Some birds prefer nesting in trees, while others prefer nesting on the ground or in cavities.

It is important to research the nesting habits of the specific bird species you are interested in and provide a suitable nest site that mimics their natural habitat. This will increase the chances of successful hatching.

Maintain Ideal Incubation Temperatures

The temperature at which bird eggs are incubated plays a vital role in the hatching process. It is important to maintain a consistent and appropriate temperature throughout the incubation period. Typically, bird eggs require temperatures between 99 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit (37-39 degrees Celsius) for successful hatching.

Using a reliable and accurate incubator or ensuring that the nest is in a suitable location with stable temperatures is crucial. Extreme temperature fluctuations can negatively impact the development of the embryos.

Monitor Humidity Levels

Humidity levels also play a significant role in the hatching process. The right humidity levels help to maintain the moisture content of the eggs, which is essential for proper development. Different bird species have different humidity requirements during incubation.

Generally, humidity levels for bird eggs range between 40% and 60%. Using a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels is recommended. If the humidity levels are too low, it can lead to dehydration of the embryos, while excessive humidity can hinder the eggs from breathing, leading to poor hatching success.

Candle Eggs to Assess Development

Candling is a technique used to assess the development of bird embryos during incubation. By shining a bright light through the eggshell, it is possible to see the embryo’s growth and detect any abnormalities. Candling should be done carefully and at specific intervals, depending on the bird species.

It allows you to monitor the progress of the embryos, identify any unfertilized or non-viable eggs, and make necessary adjustments if needed. It is advisable to learn the proper candling technique or seek guidance from experienced bird breeders or ornithologists.

By following these tips for successful hatching, you can increase the chances of a successful and rewarding bird breeding experience. Remember to always prioritize the welfare of the birds and their natural needs throughout the hatching process.


From songbirds to chickens, bird eggs require anywhere from 10 to 21 days of dedicated incubation to hatch. Understanding development timelines and nurturing the embryo during this critical growth phase sets the stage for healthy hatchlings.

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