I found a nest with eggs in it and no adult birds seem to be attending to it. I think it’s abandoned, or I scared the parents away. What should I do?

Nest with eggs in tree.
Often parent birds are secretive when they are on the nest to avoid attracting attention from predators. Photo of a Black-headed Grosbeak nest by Paul S via Birdshare.

Birds almost always return to their nest and resume incubating after they’ve been scared off. The parents may also periodically leave the nest to feed. This is especially true before all the eggs have been laid; many birds don’t start incubating their eggs until after the last one is laid, which ensures that the eggs all hatch at about the same time. So, in most cases, the nest is fine and the adult birds will be back to incubate the eggs soon.

We don’t advise that you try to hatch the eggs yourself. A federal license is required to work with native bird species, and hatching eggs successfully can be tough; it requires a specific temperature, humidity, and turning schedule.

To learn the safest ways to monitor bird nests and avoid disturbing the birds visit NestWatch. Here you can learn more about the code of conduct for monitoring a nest, and find guidelines for nest monitoring.

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