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How Many Eggs Does a Bird Lay?

Some birds lay more eggs than others. Ostrich can lay over 50 eggs per nest, pictured here. Photo by Aditya Sridhar via Birdshare.
Some birds lay more eggs than others. Common Ostriches can have up to about 50 eggs in a single nest, though these are laid by several different females. Photo by Aditya Sridhar via Birdshare.

Different species of birds lay different numbers of eggs per clutch, but pretty much all birds lay at most one egg per day.

A clutch of eggs is the total number of eggs laid in one nesting attempt. Clutch sizes vary within and among species. For example, a Laysan Albatross lays only one egg per clutch; an Adelie Penguin typically lays two. Red-tailed Hawks often lay 3 eggs; whereas a Wood Duck may lay 7–14 eggs per clutch. Virtually all songbirds lay one egg per day, usually in the early morning, until the clutch is complete. In some larger species the female will lay an egg only once every 2–3 days.

You can find out the clutch sizes for many North American species in our All About Birds species guide.

So how do scientists study clutch size? Collecting the data needed to study clutch size involves monitoring nests on a regular basis, counting the number of eggs, and recording as much information about each nest as possible. You can help in this effort by looking for and checking nests near you, and reporting your data to our NestWatch project.

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American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library