The world is full of many mysteries and phenomena that we don’t fully understand. One such mystery is the phenomenon of animals eating other animals’ eggs, a process known as “oophagy”.
In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide to 12 birds that eat other birds eggs. We will provide identification tips, fun facts, and more. So if you’re interested in learning about these fascinating creatures, read on!
Table of Contents
Red-headed Woodpeckers are the most common woodpecker in North America. They are named for their red head and large white patch on their back. These birds usually feed on ants, beetles, crickets, wasps, bees and other insects. But it turns out that they also like to eat eggs of other birds, such as hummingbirds and songbirds, whenever they have the opportunity.
- Length: 7.1-9.4 in (18-24 cm)
- Weight: 1.9-3.2 oz (55-92 g)
- Wingspan: 16.0-16.5 in (40.6-42 cm)
- Range: United States, Canada, Central America, South America.
- Habitat: Wetlands, forests, agricultural land, urban areas,
- Diet: Mainly insects, but they also eat seeds and berries during the winter months.
The Red-bellied woodpecker is a common bird in the Eastern United States, with a habitat that includes deciduous forests, pine woods, and swampy areas near water sources. They typically forage on trees or on the ground, looking for insects and larvae to eat as well as small animals, and will occasionally eat birds eggs. This is because they are opportunistic feeders and the eggs are a good source of protein.
- Length: 9.1-10.6 in (23-27 cm)
- Weight: 1.9-3.2 oz (55-91 g)
- Wingspan: 12.6-16.5 in (32-42 cm)
- Range: Southern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas.
- Habitat: Deciduous forests as well as mixed forests with both hardwoods and conifers.
- Diet: Seeds, insects, spiders, fruits, berries and nectar.
Blue Jays are one of the species that enjoy eating eggs from other birds, such as American Robins or Northern Cardinals. They find these eggs by using their keen eyesight to spot them while flying overhead or perched in trees. Once they’ve spotted an egg, they’ll swoop down and grab it with their sharp beaks, and swallow it whole.
- Length: 9.8-12.2 in (25-31 cm)
- Weight: 2.5-3.6 oz (70-101 g)
- Wingspan: 13.4-17.3 in (34-44 cm)
- Range: Eastern United States, Canada, Central America, and Northern South America.
- Habitat: Deciduous forests, coniferous forests, and residential areas.
- Diet: Seeds, fruits, insects, worms and snails.
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Gray Jays are scavengers that eat anything, including bird eggs. They are known to take the eggs from other birds nests and then break them open on a branch in order to eat the contents. This is not an uncommon sight at any time of year, but more so during breeding season, when food sources may be scarce for Gray Jays.
- Length: 9.8-13.0″ in (25-33 cm)
- Weight: 65 to 71 g (2.3 to 2.5 oz)
- Wingspan: 17.0-18.5 in (43.2-47.0)
- Range: Found throughout most of Canada and the northern United States.
- Habitat: Coniferous forests, boreal forests, mixed woodlands, deciduous forest edges or clearings, spruce-fir forests.
- Diet: insects, berries, nuts, eggs during summer, switching over to seeds, roots and bulbs during winter months.
The American Crow is a scavenger and opportunist, which means that they will eat anything. They have been observed eating animals, plants and garbage. In fact, it is not uncommon for them to raid other birds’ nests. This behavior can be seen all over North America. This behavior is called oophagy (o-off-a-gee). They also steal food from other birds when they can get away with it!
- Length: 15.7-21.1 in (40-53.5 cm)
- Weight: 11.1-21.9 oz (315-620 g)
- Wingspan: 33.5-39.8 in (85-101 cm)
- Range: North America, Northern Mexico.
- Habitat: Rural and urban areas.
- Diet: Fruit, nuts, berries, grains and insects.
The Common Raven is a black bird that lives in the United States. They are most commonly found near water sources, such as rivers and lakes. One of their favorite foods is bird eggs, which they will usually steal from other birds nests or find by scavenging through the ground for small animals. They can also eat frogs, worms, plants and fruits when needed.
- Length: 21.7-27.6 in (55-70 cm)
- Weight: 24.3-57.4 oz (690-1626 g)
- Wingspan: 45.3-46.9 in (115-119 cm)
- Range: Europe, Asia and North America.
- Habitat: Mountainous regions, forests, or near water sources.
- Diet: Insects, small mammals such as mice, voles and rabbits; other birds eggs including those from gulls or ducks that nest on the ground; carrion (dead animals).
The Common Grackle is a large black bird that frequents the United States. These birds are known for their appetite and aggression, attacking anything from snakes to fish in order to satisfy their hunger. Grackles have been observed eating live turtles, frogs, salamanders, crayfish and even small mammals such as mice. They also prey on smaller birds when they come across them, which has led to an increasing population of grackles throughout the country.
- Length: 11.0-13.8 in (28-35 cm)
- Weight: 2.7-5.0 oz (75-143 g)
- Wingspan: 13.8-18.1 in (35-46 cm)
- Range: North America, Central America, South America, and into southern Canada.
- Habitat: Woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, forests, and even deserts.
- Diet: Insects like beetles and caterpillars but also fruits or berries.
The Brown-headed Cowbird is a small songbird that breeds across North America and South America. It has an appetite for eggs, specifically the eggs of other birds. In fact, cowbirds are considered to be one of the most significant nest predators in North America because they will destroy about fifty percent of all nests they find. This can lead to population declines in some species that rely on nesting habitats like those found in woodlands or shrub lands.
- Length: 7.1-9.1 in (18-23 cm)
- Weight: 1.5-1.8 oz (41-51 g)
- Wingspan: 14.0-14.2 in (25.6-36.1 cm)
- Range: Central Canada to Florida and Mexico, Central America south to Colombia and Ecuador.
- Habitat: Open habitats such as meadows, prairies, pastures, agricultural fields and suburbs.
- Diet: Insects, fruit, berries and seeds.
The Black-capped Chickadees are a migratory bird that are found all over North America. These birds also seem to have a taste for bird eggs; in the springtime, they will often raid nests of other species to steal their eggs or young chicks. The Black-capped Chickadees enjoy feasting on anything from bluebird eggs to robin eggs when given the opportunity.
- Length: 4.3-5.9 in (11-15 cm)
- Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz (9-15 g)
- Wingspan: 5.9-8.7 in (15-22 cm)
- Range: Woodlands, shrublands, open country, farmland and suburban areas.
- Habitat: Southern Canada to Northern Mexico.
- Diet: Insects, seeds, nuts and berries during different seasons.
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American Robins are native to North America and have the widest distribution of any bird in the United States. They eat a variety of foods, including insects, spiders, worms, berries and fruit. One interesting habit is that they will steal eggs from other birds’ nests, as well as scavenge for them on the ground. They will steal from other robin nests and crows’ nests as well.
- Length: 8.3-11.2 in (21-28.5 cm)
- Weight: 2.8-3.0 oz (78-86 g)
- Wingspan: 11.8-15.7 in (30-40 cm)
- Range: North-eastern United States to southern Canada and south to Central America.
- Habitat: Open woodlands, suburbs, parks, agricultural fields and brushy hillsides with scattered trees.
- Diet: Mainly insects, berries and other fruit.
The northern mockingbird is a medium-sized bird found in North America. They are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. They primarily eat fruit, insects, eggs of other birds and small reptiles such as lizards or snakes. It is not common for them to do this, but they have been seen doing it. The reason why Northern Mockingbirds eat other bird’s eggs could be because of a shortage of food in the area.
- Length: 8.1-10.4 in (20.5-26.5 cm)
- Weight: 1.6-2.0 oz (45-59 g)
- Wingspan: 11.8-14.2 in (30-36 cm)
- Range: Eastern United States, Southern Canada, Mexico, and Central America.
- Habitat: Parks, yards, and rural areas.
- Diet: Insects, fruit and seeds.
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Carolina Wrens will eat other birds’ eggs, especially chickadees. The Carolina wren is an opportunistic bird that feeds on insects and other small animals, as well as a variety of plant material. They are not fussy eaters, so they will feed on the eggs of any species that have been left unattended in their territory or nest site. They have a distinctive foraging style that involves climbing up to the nest and then puncturing the egg, and accessing the insides.
- Length: 4.3-5.7 in (11-14.5 cm)
- Weight: 0.6-0.8 oz (17-23 g)
- Wingspan: 11.0-11.4 in (28-29 cm)
- Range: Eastern North America, South-eastern United States, Southern Canada, and Mexico.
- Habitat: Brushy areas like forests, thickets, hedges along field edges, shrubs, urban areas.
- Diet: Insects, spiders, berries and other fruit.