How to Incubate a Wild Bird's Egg

Updated July 20, 2017

There are over 800 species of birds. Of these, 836 are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This act makes it illegal for people to take migratory birds, their eggs, feathers or nests, with the exception of the European starling, house sparrow and pigeon. According to the Treaty, a migratory bird is considered any species or family of bird that live, reproduce or migrate within or across international borders. Unless the egg is a sparrow, pigeon or starling, leave the egg where it was found, do not place the egg in another bird's nest because this may cause abandonment of the entire nest.

Wash hands before touching the eggs and sanitise the incubator.

Place the incubator in a room away from drafts and direct sunlight. Keep the incubator at a constant temperature. Make sure the incubator is in good working order. Temperature should be kept at 37.5 degrees C to 37.8 degrees Celsius.

In the incubator, the small end of the egg should be higher than the large end.

Turn egg at least five times a day to prevent overheating. Do not turn eggs for the final three to four days of incubation.

Place a cloth near incubator where hatched chicks can walk around.


Found eggs may not be able to survive or develop into a chick. Eggs are fragile and may not appear to have visible cracks on them, but if the egg was dropped, the membrane inside may be damaged causing harm to the embryo. To estimate whether incubation has started, check the warmth of the egg. If the egg is cool to the touch, the egg may have been abandoned or has not begun incubation yet. An egg left to cool after incubation has begun is not good for the egg.


If eggs are not rotated correctly or enough times, it could result in the organs of the chick to stick to the sides of its shell and the chicks could be born with their intestines outside their bodies.

Things You'll Need

  • Incubator
  • Egg
  • Cloth
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About the Author

Veronica Ouellette began writing professionally in 2007 as an editorial assistant for the "Stamford Advocate." As a freelancer, her work has appeared in numerous online publications. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.