What happens to unfertilized eggs in the wild?

Small and Backyard Flocks October 17, 2012 Print Friendly and PDF

Wild birds rarely lay unfertilized eggs. Unlike domesticated chickens, which lay many eggs throughout the year, wild birds lay eggs only during their breeding season. When wild birds lay unfertilized eggs, they incubate the unfertilized eggs alongside their fertile eggs (although the unfertilized eggs will not hatch). Unhatched eggs may rot, or, if left in nests after all the fertile eggs have hatched, they may be eaten by predators.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.