10 February 2011
Supporter Services Team Manager
My life-long interest in birds and wildlife stems from my fortunate childhood upbringing in rural Oxfordshire where I can remember owning first pair of binoculars from a very early age. I started working for the RSPB in August 2005 for the Membership Services department and after a 5 months secondment in 2007, I started working full-time for the Wildlife Enquiries team in January 2008. After studying Environmental Studies and Ornithology via distance learning courses, I recently completed a diploma in Zoology at Oxford College.
Sent in by Badger Class at Loose Infant School, Kent
Birds have to sit on their eggs to keep them warm. It's a bit like baking a cake - the warmth from the parent bird makes sure that the chicks inside develop properly. This is called 'incubation'.
To keep the eggs warm, a special warm patch grows on the parent birds' tummies. Some of their feathers drop out so that the warm skin touches the eggs. This is called a 'brood patch'.
Different birds sit on their eggs for different lengths of time. Bigger birds lay bigger eggs which take longer to hatch. Blue tits incubate their eggs for two weeks but swans sit on theirs for nearly six weeks!
Most birds lay one egg a day until the eggs are all laid. Some birds lay up to 15 eggs but others lay only one. But the parent birds do not start to incubate the eggs until they are all laid. In some birds, only the mother sits on the eggs. Others take it in turns to share with the father.
And in a very few bird species - like red-necked phalaropes and dotterels (which are rare wading birds) - only the male incubates the eggs and raises the chicks.
Do you have have a wildlife-related question you've always wanted to ask? You can use our online form to ask a question by clicking on the link below.
Ask a question