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Bird Egg Incubation
Bird eggs of all types have the same basic needs with just minor variations in the specifics such as incubation temperature, incubation time, turning requirements, and humidity requirements.
The number one thing to keep in mind when hatching bird eggs is that you are trying to simulate the environment created by the mother bird sitting on her eggs. This is a hot and humid environment in which the eggs are rearranged several times per day as their mother gets uncomfortable. Another thing to remember is that birds have been on the earth for millions of years and hatching just fine without the exacting temperatures of a bird incubator. Slight variations in temperature and humidity are natural and not of concern and may even be a good thing.
It has been proven already that slight temperature variations have actually made the offspring of certain species much more hardy and hatch rates were improved. This is probably due in part to the temperatures in nature not being exact and the simulation of night to day fluctuations created a much more natural environment.The average temperature required for most bird eggs is 99 degrees Fahrenheit and 28 days would be a normal incubation period for most species.
Most bird eggs require being turned 90 degrees every four hours or six times per day in a back and forth manner. This is also not exact science. If one day you only turn the egg 4 times your eggs are going to be just fine. This procedure simulates the mother rearranging her eggs throughout the day as she gets uncomfortable. How would you like to sit on lumpy eggs all day? Well, unbeknownst to the mother eggs she is actually performing a vital function as she rolls her eggs about the nest. She is helping to keep the embryo of the egg from becoming adhered to the egg wall. This allows the embryo to develop evenly and prevents abnormal growth patterns inside the eggs.
As we all know water is vital to the existence of life and bird eggs are no exception. During the incubation process the humidity levels need to be high for virtually all species other than some desert dwelling types such as ostrich. The humidity in the air allows the eggs to exchange water through the pores in the shell virtually drinking from the air around them. With too little humidity the eggs can dry up on the inside and this can kill the developing bird embryo. With too much humidity pressure can build inside the egg causing premature death as well. This all probably sounds pretty scary but don't break out your hygrometer just yet. If humidity is kept at about 50% or so with some fluctuation then your eggs will be just fine. This is easily achieved by placing water inside your incubation chamber near the heating element. This warm water will evaporate and create the humidity needed.
Not all incubators are created equal in all the aspects of bird egg incubation but we have tried to make things as simple as possible for someone looking to hatch bird eggs. Our informative chart on incubator features, pros, and cons should make the choosing the correct incubator for your needs much easier and your bird incubation experience that much more enjoyable.