Do Birds Move Their Eggs?

Grey bird trying to move eggs in nest

The phenomenon of birds moving their eggs is a subject that intrigues many because it showcases an aspect of avian behavior that is both complex and adaptive. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide you with more insights into this remarkable bird instinct and how it relates to their dedication to the survival of their offspring!

Do Birds Ever Move Their Eggs?

Kittiwake bird sittig on a nest with two eggs

While not a widespread behavior, birds do move their eggs under certain circumstances. Typically, this is to protect their eggs when danger looms or the nest becomes unsafe. This is their way of ensuring their eggs have the best chance at life.

It’s important to note that the practice of moving eggs varies significantly among different bird species. Some birds may never exhibit this behavior, while for others, it may be a more regular part of their nesting habits

Common factors that influence whether a bird will move its eggs include the species’ natural behaviors, the structure of their nests, and their ability to physically relocate eggs without causing harm. 

Why Do Birds Move Their Eggs?

Bird nest on tree branch with five blue eggs inside

Birds moving their eggs is quite unusual, so in this section, we’ll explore the motives and the environmental factors that compel them to take this extraordinary step.


The threat of predators looms large in the natural world, and birds are acutely aware of the danger they pose to their eggs. 

Predators such as snakes, raccoons, other birds, and even certain insects can easily locate nests and consume the eggs. 

When birds detect an increase in the presence of predators or repeated attempts by predators to access their eggs, they may choose to move their eggs to a more concealed or inaccessible location. 

This act of relocation is a strategic response aimed at throwing predators off the scent and securing a safer future for their developing chicks.

Environmental Changes

Natural phenomena like flooding, wildfires, or storms can render a nest’s location suddenly hazardous, necessitating a quick decision to find a safer nesting site. 

Moreover, human activities such as deforestation, construction, and pollution can drastically alter a bird’s habitat, which can lead to the loss of suitable nesting areas. 

Birds, in their quest to ensure the safety and viability of their eggs, will sometimes move them to a location that offers greater stability and protection from these environmental threats.


Continuous noise, frequent movements, or the close presence of humans can cause significant stress to nesting birds. I have observed this firsthand when a robin chose to nest in the hanging basket on my porch.

Initially, the flurry of human activity seemed not to bother it; however, as the days grew busier and noisier, with children playing nearby and guests coming and going, I noticed a change. 

The bird emptied its nest, and after some searching, I discovered the robin eggs relocated in the dense foliage of a nearby tree, away from the disturbances. 

This move was a clear attempt to seek a more peaceful setting to create a more conducive environment for the incubation and eventual hatching of its eggs.

How Do Birds Carry and Move Their Eggs?

Kiwi bird trying to move its egg using legs

Birds use various methods to move their eggs, depending on their size, strength, and the nature of their nest. Some might gently roll the egg with their beak, while others may use their body to scoop and relocate the egg. 

Different bird species have developed unique ways to carry their eggs. For instance, larger birds can cover an egg more easily and move it short distances. 

Meanwhile, smaller birds might need to work harder, using a combination of their beak and body, to shuffle the egg to a new location. These methods are instinctive and ensure the safety of the egg.

The act of moving eggs is a delicate task that requires precision and care. Birds are naturally equipped to handle their eggs without causing damage. 

They use their innate understanding of angles and pressure to safely reposition their eggs, whether to a completely new location or just a safer spot within the same nest.

Which Bird Species Are Known for Moving Their Eggs?

Several bird species are known to move their eggs, though this behavior varies greatly across the avian domain, as we have mentioned earlier.

Here are a few bird species that were observed to move their eggs:

  • Killdeer
  • Plovers
  • Megapodes
  • Certain duck species
  • Some species of owls

These birds represent just a handful of the many species that have been observed relocating their eggs under specific circumstances. Notably, these birds do not all move their eggs in the same way.

Fun Fact: Megapodes are quite distinctive in their approach when moving eggs. They bury their eggs in sand or compost to incubate them and occasionally move them to regulate temperature better.

Check out this video for a closer look at how megapodes lay and relocate their eggs:

Rare footage of megapode birds laying eggs in volcano ash-covered islands, and their predators

Risks and Challenges of Moving Eggs for Birds

Moving eggs poses significant risks and challenges for birds, so it’s a behavior undertaken only under dire circumstances. Here’s a closer look at the main concerns associated with this rare act:

  • Potential damage to eggs: The delicate nature of eggs means that any misstep during relocation could result in cracks or breaks, leading to the loss of the chicks inside.
  • Increased risk of predation: The process of moving eggs can catch the attention of predators, which can heighten the danger to both the eggs and the parent bird.
  • Finding a suitable new location: The new nesting site must offer adequate protection, the right conditions for incubation, and access to food, which can be challenging to find.
  • Resource expenditure: The energy and time invested in moving eggs could be spent on other vital activities, such as foraging or defending the territory, impacting the bird’s health and its other offspring.

These risks and challenges show the complexity and the high stakes of the decision to move eggs. 

Birds weigh these factors carefully by balancing the immediate need for the safety of their eggs against the potential long-term consequences for their reproductive success and survival.

How Often Do Birds Move Their Eggs?

Two red birds in nest with eggs

Birds rarely move their eggs, as it is generally a last resort taken in response to immediate threats or environmental changes. 

The frequency of this behavior varies greatly among different species and is influenced by several factors, including the level of predation, habitat stability, and the availability of suitable nesting sites. 

For most bird species, the stability and safety of the initial nest location are crucial, and they invest significant effort in choosing a site that minimizes the need for egg relocation.

It’s worth noting that some birds may never need to move their eggs throughout their lifetime, while others might do so only under exceptional circumstances.

Have you ever witnessed a bird moving their eggs before? Share your experiences in the comments below. Feel free to ask questions and share your thoughts in this article as well.

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